Dubai: As part of Hong Kong’s new tourism campaign, UAE residents may be eligible to take advantage of a “one-plus-one-free” scheme for airline tickets.

A high-ranking Hong Kong official is encouraging travelers from the United Arab Emirates to take advantage of the program, which comes just weeks after the government of Hong Kong launched its global “Hello Hong Kong” campaign to give away 500,000 free airline tickets. “The Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Algernon Yau Ying Wah, stated that it would probably be a “buy one, get one free” lucky draw promotion.”

“For instance, if you purchase a ticket from Dubai, the return ticket from Hong Kong will, subject to certain conditions, be free. It is dependent on the tourism board’s decision.

Yau is hopeful that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Middle Eastern nations will be brought into the spotlight as a result of the tickets being distributed as part of a global campaign. The city spent approximately $254.8 million on all 500,000 tickets.

Yau spoke with Gulf News on the sidelines of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC)-organized UAE – Hong Kong SAR Business Forum. After touring Saudi Arabia, a delegation of Hong Kong business leaders and principal officials, led by the city’s chief executive John Lee, went to the UAE last week.

Before the pandemic, Hong Kong received 56 million visitors annually through the “Hello Hong Kong” campaign. That number had dropped to about 100,000 by 2022. The strictest quarantine rules and the requirement for multiple PCR tests kept most travelers out for 21 days.

However, Hong Kong, which is one of the most important business, financial, and tourism centers in Asia, wants to entice tourists back. Yau stated, The tickets for the flights do not have a specific allocation. Visitors from all over the world are welcome. To manage the distribution of those tickets, the city’s tourism board and airport authority will work with the airlines.

Tickets will be distributed among the city’s three airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, HK Express, and Cathay Pacific, the city’s flag carrier. Alternately, UAE travelers can participate in the flight ticket lottery by visiting the “World of Winners” website beginning on March 1.

There will be three waves of ticket distribution: from the first of March to residents of Southeast Asia, the first of April to residents of mainland China, and the first of May to residents of the rest of the world.

Emirates, the main airline in Dubai, uses Boeing 777s to fly daily to Hong Kong with a brief stopover in Bangkok. From March 29, the airline will also resume direct flights to Hong Kong aboard its A380 superjumbo. On Emirates, tickets in economy class cost Dh3,775; on Cathay Pacific, tickets cost Dh4,135 for a March 30 departure.

Hong Kong after the pandemic “Hong Kong has always had a close relationship with the GCC,” Yau stated, noting that trade was approximately $60 billion prior to the pandemic. Trade with the UAE alone reached $12.8 billion, a record prior to COVID. Now that Hong Kong has reopened, we can move freely between Hong Kong and mainland China.

In order to boost non-oil trade, Hong Kong is inviting investment from the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf nations, fueled by the next era of innovation. The Hong Kong delegation paid a visit to the UAE last week and signed a number of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with government and private organizations based in the UAE to strengthen partnerships outside of trade. Lee also stated that a “free trade agreement” (FTA) is the “logical next step” in relations between Hong Kong and the UAE.

Yau stated, “We have established dialogue with the Emirates and comprehended the requirements and needs of GCC governments.” We are looking for partnerships in areas such as technology and the Internet of Things (IoT). Our R&D is strong.”

Additionally, the city intends to provide incentives for international students to remain in Hong Kong after graduation and work there. We will issue them with a two-year work permit to work in Hong Kong following their studies, he added.

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