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Hong Kong is set to give away as many as 500,000 free airline tickets as part of a global promotional drive launched on Thursday to lure back visitors as the city paves the last mile of its return to pre-Covid normality.

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu officiated the launch ceremony of the HK$2 billion (US$255.2 million) “Hello Hong Kong” campaign at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai at 2.30pm.

Other campaign highlights include a series of major trade shows and conventions, as well as sports and arts events, and existing annual drawcards such as the city’s marathon this month and the Rugby Sevens and Art Basel in March.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board will also work alongside local businesses on the campaign and offer visitors a range of perks, including free welcome drinks for those dining out at more than 100 restaurants and bars across the city.

To attract foreign investors, Lee will lead a delegation of business big guns to visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this Saturday.