Visitors to Hong Kong will be treated to extra promotional offers, including discounted train tickets and dining coupons, in a more than HK$20 million (US$2.55 million) enhancement to the city’s tourism drive, while arrival figures in February almost tripled from a month earlier. The Hong Kong Tourism Board revealed on Wednesday that 1.46 million people visited the city in February – the first time the monthly figure has surpassed 1 million since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020. The more than HK$20 million boost to the “Hong Kong Goodies” promotional drive would help visitors make the most of their stay and allow them to “explore the city’s unique experiences”, the board’s executive director Dane Cheng Ting-yat said. The government had already announced HK$100 million worth of coupons for drinks, dining and shopping allocated to tourists under the campaign. From April, the number of outlets where tourists can redeem their coupons will double from 1,500 to about 3,000. Each coupon, valued at HK$100, can be used in selected bars, restaurants and hotels or at various attractions. The promotion is part of the government’s wider “Hello Hong Kong” campaign designed to entice tourists back to the city, which includes a giveaway of more than 500,000 free air tickets to visitors from short- and long-haul destinations. Visas resume, travel booms? Hong Kong tourism sector hopeful as mainland reopens Rail operator the MTR Corporation has also chipped in for the latest round. It will give away 100,000 Airport Express tickets, 100,000 tourist day passes and 100,000 coupons each worth 30 yuan (US$4) for buying high-speed train tickets. “By giving away free tickets for local train services and discounts for purchasing high-speed rail tickets, we hope visitors arriving in Hong Kong after the pandemic can experience the courtesy of Hong Kong and have a wonderful and amazing trip,” CEO Jacob Kam Chak-pui said. The Hong Kong Jockey Club will distribute 2,000 sets of tourist packs, with each including a badge as well as coupons for restaurants and souvenirs that can be used at its racecourses. Lack of flights hampering Hong Kong tourism industry’s recovery, experts say Tourists are only able to select one of the available goodies from the MTR, the Jockey Club or other offers given out by the board. The club’s offers are available from Wednesday, while those from the MTR will be ready for visitors from noon on March 28. Tourist arrivals to the city more than doubled from 498,689 in January to 1.46 million in February. The number of mainland Chinese visitors soared by almost four times from 280,525 in January to 1.10 million in February. They accounted for about 75 per cent of the total arrivals in February. The easing of pandemic-related restrictions for cross-border travel between Hong Kong and the mainland started in late January, followed by a full resumption in February. Gianna Hsu Wong Mei-lun, chairwoman of the Travel Industry Council, said the latest tourism figures were “ideal” but she expected stronger growth in future. She said the council was “confident” about the city’s recovery in the coming months and hoped arrival numbers would rebound to pre-pandemic levels. The mainland’s decision to resume issuing all categories of visas to foreign visitors from Wednesday would also benefit local tourism, Hsu said, explaining easier cross-border travel for overseas tourists was a positive development. “It will benefit both travel agencies and tourists. We need time to [attract] more tourists. Maybe in another three months or during the ‘golden week’ [in May], we will see a stronger result,” she said on Wednesday. Hong Kong tourism picks up as mainlanders return, but no boom yet for hotels, F&B The council has also launched an online tourism resource platform called “GreaterGo”, aimed at facilitating exchanges and cooperation with the tourism industry and related partners. In a launch ceremony on Wednesday, Hsu said the platform aimed to assist tourism professionals to seize opportunities in China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Greater Bay Area. It also gathered industry partners and would create new business opportunities, while providing comprehensive information to facilitate the planning of new tourism products, she said. Hong Kong leader eyes ‘joint tour’ market with Macau, multi-city travel in bay area Hsu added that about 200 members from the trade had signed up to the platform so far. Hong Kong Airlines announced the launch of its second Beijing route on Wednesday, which will offer four flights a week between the city and Beijing Daxing International Airport. The airline said it was looking at operating daily flights on the route from March 26. Its service between Hong Kong and Beijing Capital Airport will gradually increase from one flight a day to two to three.