People walk in front of the Hong Kong Observation Wheel in Hong Kong, China China Sept. 5, 2019. — REUTERS

HONG KONG announced on Wednesday that it will be giving away 30,000 round-trip tickets to tourists from the Philippines.

“Filipinos love visiting Hong Kong and we expect this tourism campaign to encourage this important market to continue visiting us,” Vivian Cheung, chief operation officer of the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK), told reporters.  

To avail of the tickets, Philippine-based travelers must sign up on the websites of Cathay Pacific, which will handle 20,400 of the flights allocated to the country, and of Hong Kong Airlines, which will handle the remainder. 

The campaign will start on March 3 at 12:00 noon on a first come, first served basis. 

“Ticket distribution will continue for 6 months, and the flights will have to be within the next 9 months. The good news is, there are no blackout dates for this campaign, so you can book as long as there are available flights,” Ms. Cheung said. 

The free tickets were sponsored by AAHK in 2020 as part of a pandemic relief package for Hong Kong’s aviation industry, providing liquidity support to the home-based carriers with a plan for airlines to use the tickets to promote traffic recovery post-pandemic. 

Donald Morris, country manager of Cathay Pacific Philippines, said that all those interested should sign up on the website before March 3, which will likely see aspiring travelers stuck on a loading page as the campaign starts. 

Sign-ups will be open for a week after March 3, after which the winners will be notified. Winners will also receive special offers for hotel accommodation, shopping, and entertainment from AAHK’s business partners. 

Ms. Cheung said that the Hong Kong International Airport was continuously refurbished even during the pandemic. 

New services and facilities include the 200-meter airside footbridge Sky Bridge, the renovated luxury shopping zone at Terminal 1, and smart technologies like facial recognition and touchless arrival and departure points throughout the airport. 

“We are the third busiest international airport,” she said. “We expect by end of this year 80% of travel will come back.” 

Aside from a third runway to accommodate even more cargo and passengers, the airport’s commercial area SKYCITY, composed of hotels, restaurants, entertainment and conference venues, and a concert arena, is also being developed. 

For more details, visit— Brontë H. Lacsamana