Hong Kong is giving away 500,000 free airline tickets this year to jumpstart tourism.
The giveaway, which will run over six months, will begin in March and be given out in phases to travelers in Southeast Asia, China, and other countries around the world. The giveaway will cost the government approximately HK$2 billion, and it’s expected to save the city millions of dollars in airfare costs.
Tickets for the giveaway are available through Cathay Pacific Airways, HK Express, and Greater Bay Airlines. It’s the first time the Hong Kong airport has ever offered free flights to international travelers.
These tickets will be distributed via lottery in three waves: beginning in March, residents of Southeast Asia can apply; in April, mainland Chinese can do so; and starting in May, the rest of the world will have the opportunity to get a free flight to Hong Kong.
While the promotion is a good way to attract travelers, it’s not without its risks. The government is spending a lot of money on the scheme, and while free tickets might seem like a good deal to some, there’s a chance you could end up with a ticket that’s not legitimate.
A major threat to the lottery was found on a river in West Hong Kong last Wednesday when Customs and Excise Department officers intercepted a boat carrying Mark Six tickets. The tickets were all generated by computer software, but authorities believe they’re destined for sale in Macau and China.