A matter of days after scrapping the mandatory hotel quarantine requirement, Hong Kong has unveiled plans to give away half a million airline tickets in an attempt to boost tourism.

The city is taking action to attract tourists back to the city following the pandemic which led to some of the toughest restrictions in the world.

Initially announced two years ago, the move was confirmed by an Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) spokesperson to CNN. A total of 500,000 tickets – worth around $400 million – would be allocated to overseas visitors and residents.

"Back in 2020, Airport Authority Hong Kong purchased around 500,000 air tickets in advance from the territory's home-based airlines as part of a relief package to support the aviation industry," the spokesperson said.

"The purchase serves the purpose of injecting liquidity into the airlines upfront, while the tickets will be given away to global visitors and Hong Kong residents in the market recovery campaign."

During the pandemic, Hong Kong was essentially cut off from the world due to the strict quarantine requirements. At one point, travellers had to remain in a hotel for 21 days; this was then reduced to seven, then three, before being officially scrapped on 26th September.

"We hope to give the maximum room to reconnect Hong Kong, and to revitalise our economy," said Hong Kong's Chief Executive John Lee during a press conference on Friday.

Nevertheless, visitors to Hong Kong will still face various restrictions. International travellers must show a pre-flight vaccination certificate, negative PCR test and rapid antigen test before being allowed entry.

They also need to self-monitor for three days and undergo PCR tests on days 2, 4 and 6 after arrival, as well as take a rapid antigen test every day for a week.

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