The Chinese Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong is attracting attention with a spectacular campaign. Despite the mega-costs the idea should pay off.
Hong Kong is remembered by numerous people of the world with a negative image. Many remember the brutal crackdown on demonstrators, the restriction of civil liberties, or the puppet government run by Beijing’s former city governor, Carrie Lam.
Even those strict rules during the coronavirus pandemic have not been forgotten.
But now the island kingdom at the southern tip of China, once a British crown colony, is making news with something positive. As the Hong Kong Tourism Board announced, the state will buy 500,000 airline tickets through the airport authority and give them away.
The background to this action is to boost tourism after restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The area, which is still comparatively-loosely kept on a long leash by China with the slogan “One country, two systems”, has already opened up again – piecemeal – after being completely closed off due to the coronavirus.
Business travelers targeted
The 500,000 airline tickets are then to be distributed among people at the beginning of 2023, when tourists will once again be able to travel without restrictions.
The idea is intended to boost tourism as well as travel in general. The details of which have not yet been fully clarified, but will cost around 2 billion HK dollars, or around 255 million Swiss francs.
The small country’s premium airline, Cathay Pacific, as well as Hong Kong Airlines and the airline Hong Kong Express are to provide the tickets. The local government is paying for the whole thing, the Airport Authority told media.
The free flights are to benefit mainly business people, but also private travelers as well as groups. Only the hotel stay and meals are to be paid for by the travelers themselves, those responsible further communicated.
Exploitation of the scheme with any rapid onward journey is to be avoided. Instead of always giving capital injections or loans to airlines in distress, Hong Kong simply asks for the products of their stumbling airlines.
With the busy Chinese, however, one can only imagine that this action does not simply come out of the blue, but pays off as hard as nails.
Image on the rise again
Those responsible have admitted directly that there will be a multiplier effect on Hong Kong’s hotel industry and on the gastronomy scene. However, numerous other sectors are likely to see rising revenues via the free tickets, and even their image worldwide is likely to rise.
And Hong Kong does indeed have a lot to offer travelers. Not only is the food and drink a delight. But also the art scene, wonderful walks in the countryside, or pilgrimages to the 34-meter-high Tian Tan Buddha are experiences that would leave a lasting impression.
Tea time like in old days
The luxury hotels of the Special Administrative Region should not be scorned by tourists and business travelers either. Just think of a typical British afternoon tea with scones in one of the five-star traditional hotels such as The Peninsula Hong Kong, the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong or the newer St. Regis Hotel in the lively Wan Chai district.
A view over that iconic skyline between mountains and hills from the famous Lion Peak, the Skydeck observation deck on the 100th floor of the ICC or simply from the Executive Lounge at the Conrad Hotel Hong Kong, for example, are also likely to remain quite unforgettable.
Switzerland on train
All this is made possible with the free flights quasi with less equity for the trips to Hong Kong. In Switzerland, operating with less equity is indeed an issue for the banks, for example. But no similar idea is currently planned for travelers.
Such a ticket purchase by the state would also be unthinkable at present – since Switzerland’s flagship airline, Swiss, belongs to the German Lufthansa Group. They probably can’t stomach throwing money down its throat.
Switzerland Tourism would have to rely on spectacular campaigns because with the strong Swiss franc travel to Switzerland is expensive. A free air ticket would certainly be welcomed there as well.
And the Swiss luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants, cafés, mountain huts, zoos, theaters, galleries, gondola and mountain railroads, cinemas, clubs, souvenir stores, luxury clothing and watch boutiques, flagship stores, chocolate stores and even the state-owned Swiss Federal Railways SBB should be pleased with all the additional revenue generated.
In any case, a considerable portion flows directly back to the treasury via value-added, income and profit taxes.