Antonio Solomon Cheng is an entrepreneurs residing in Hong Kong. Honorary Ambassador to Pohnpei Federal States of Micronesia (F.S.M), vice president of Korea International Chamber of Commerce (KICC), Antonio Solomon recently visited Kathmandu to explore possibilities of doing something in tourism and other sectors. During the visit, he spoke to NEW SPOTLIGHT on various issues.
How do you assess the potential of expanding tourism in Nepal?
I have found that Nepal is a great country. I have seen an immense possibility to expand tourism in Nepal. Nepal has mountains, temples and cultures. Other countries do not have them all. People here are nice and mountains are beautiful. Wake up early in the morning, and what you see is strange people are smiling and meditating. Despite some political instability in Nepal, We see a lot of potential for tourism development. One of the positive things about the Nepalese people is unity and patience. If they continue to unite, your country will be a great country in the world.
What is your target?
Our target is to bring tourists from Hong Kong, Mainland China and Macau to Nepal. We have good packages to increase the number of tourists from these two areas. Annually, only 30,000 Chinese tourists are coming to Nepal. You can bring up to a million. If you increase the number of flights and do some marketing, you can easily bring a lot of Chinese tourists. Nepal is close from China and you can bring up to half a million even in the present circumstances. Next month we are bringing 50 leading tourism entrepreneurs from China, Hong Kong and Macau to explore Nepal’s potential. This is going to be a milestone for Nepal.
You have presented a very good plan. How supportive are Nepalese authorities on this? At a time when Nepal is planning to bring a million tourists under Nepal Tourism Year 2011 program, your proposal seems to be very attractive.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has assured us that they will reduce visa processing for Chinese tourists. This will help a lot. Unlike other countries, Chinese need visas before boarding. We also met chief executive officer of Nepal Tourism Board Prachanda Man Shrestha for his support. The Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism also pledged government support to the effort. The new executive chairman of Nepal Airlines has also assured us that Nepal Airlines will increase the frequency of flight to Hong Kong and China. If you increase the frequency of flights, Nepal need not worry about tourists. This country is more beautiful than Switzerland. We love this country and people. If Nepal settles its internal issues, it will be prosperous and famous in the world. We hope unity brings about a lot of change in the country.
Have you explored other possibilities for making investment in Nepal?
Yes, there is also a big possibility in investing in agriculture and hydropower sector. We want to invest in agriculture sector to improve the technology. Other areas for investment in Nepal will be hydropower sector. Nepal needs energy and we can bring expertise and investors in hydro sector as well. We have supported energy projects in the pacific Iceland Guam, along with casinos.