Arrivals to Hong Kong exceeded 1 million in February for the first time in three years, according to provisional data from the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB). The number is triple that of January, as the city launches a HK$2 billion campaign to woo tourists back to the city following years of strict Covid controls.

airport covid
Hong Kong airport. File photo: Tania Chan/HKFP.

February’s figures nevertheless pale in comparison to 2019 pre-Covid pandemic data. Hong Kong welcomed 5,589,628 visitors in February 2019, according to the HKTB.

Arrival figures
Arrival figures. Photo: Hong Kong Tourism Board.

“Among the arrivals, Mainland visitors show a significant increase. Other short-haul visitors mainly came from Southeast Asia. Share of leisure visitors is also on a continuous rise,” HKTB said in a press release. Of the 1,461,969 visitors in February, just over a million were from mainland China. The number of long-haul arrivals stood at 75,628.

Industry insiders have said that regional airlines are struggling to ramp up flights in what was once an Asian aviation hub. Staff shortages, as well as fee hikes of 30 to 100 per cent among ground handling companies, have dented Hong Kong’s appeal, they said last month.

MTR promotion

Meanwhile, as part of the government’s “Hello Hong Kong” tourism reboot, the MTR Corporation (MTRC) announced on Wednesday that it was giving away 100,000 Airport Express Tickets and 100,000 Tourist Day passes.

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The tickets will be made available exclusively to visitors from March 28. An MTRC spokesperson said the giveaway was a “token of our support to the on-going campaign to showcase the city’s hospitality.”

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.