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Ill-judged Hong Kong tourism ad deters visitors with creepy love tale

An attempt by Hong Kong to bolster its tourism industry has backfired after the territory's tourist board produced a questionable campaign depicting a man stealing his girlfriend’s passport.

The misguided attempt at love was first aired by Discover Hong Kong last week, in which a woman could be seen frantically searching for an apparently lost passport ahead of her flight, only to discover a handwritten message from her partner instructing her to visit ‘Wong Flea Market’.

Calls to his mobile are met with a voicemail, confirming the woman’s fears that she is now being held against her will, remarking in a voiceover: ‘I knew that he was upset about me leaving Hong Kong for my photography degree’.

So begins a bizarre treasure hunt across the city as the hostage follows a trail of breadcrumbs to her boyfriend lurking in a nearby camera shop. There he hands his victim a camera to ‘put my photo up on your dorm door’.

In this fictional reality the pair come together at the end with smiles but in the real world reactions were far less sanguine, with many calling out the ‘coercion and control’ evidenced by this relationship.

Less controversial campaigns have sought to encourage locals to share their own unique perspectives of the city.

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