On January 20, 2022, Tejendra S Poudel received the official confirmation of his appointment as the Honorary Consul General of the Nation of Hawaii for Nepal (Principality within the United States of America). Later, in April, Youcef Ihaddaden, Ambassador-At-Large, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Minister of Treasury of the Nation of Hawaii, formally inducted Poudel during an official ceremony held in Ibiza, Spain. Since then, Poudel has been planning and working rigorously to bridge the gap between Nepal and Hawaii, known for their mountains and islands, respectively.
Poudel, veteran travel, and tourism entrepreneur and aviation professional, shared that he is proud to get the recognition for his work in the field of tourism by Hawaii - one of the world's attractive and touristic destinations. “The role has given me extra motivation to promote tourism in Nepal and Hawaii, and I am dedicated to all my responsibilities as Hawaii’s representative in Nepal,” he said.
Nation of Hawaii is a group of Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) in favour of Hawaiian independence from the United States. It is formed by proponents of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement in resistance to what sovereignty advocates consider the occupation of Hawaii by the United States. On November 23, 1993, US President Bill Clinton signed the "Apology Resolution," which acknowledges that while Hawaii was occupied by the United States, their sovereignty was never relinquished. This resolution was the first of its kind that acknowledged this history. This empowered leaders and organisers of the Nation of Hawaii to reclaim the physical ownership of their Native land as well as their independence from the United States' annexation of the islands. Given that Native Hawaiians now had a legal document stating that they had not relinquished their sovereignty to the US, they were empowered to reclaim this through their various efforts.
“The officials of the nation of Hawaii have chosen me to be their representative in Nepal. Being new to the work of honorary consul there is a lot of work that needs to be done, and I am doing my homework to facilitate the Hawaiian in the best interest of Nepal and Hawaii, he added.
Nepal and the nation of Hawaii are completely different from each other culturally, socially, economically, and politically. Likewise, they both are situated on opposite poles. Hawaii is an island surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, while Nepal is a landlocked nation covered with mountains and lush terrains. Interestingly, the world's highest peak above sea level, Mt Everest, is in Nepal, while Mauna Kea, the highest peak in the world when measured from below the sea level, is situated in Hawaii.
However, Poudel, as a travel and tour entrepreneur, sees immense opportunities to work for tourism development in Nepal. “The nation of Hawaii is among the top tourism destinations in the world. It has expertise in tourism promotion and branding. As the Honorary Consul General of Hawaii in Nepal, I will try my best to learn about the beautiful island and use its expertise in promoting and branding Nepal's village tourism,” he added.
Tourists describe the nation of Hawaii as an archipelago of eight main islands surrounded by 129 smaller ones in the middle of the Pacific Ocean - the closest we can get to paradise on earth. “As a tourism entrepreneur, with decades of experience in promoting tourism in the remote mountain village, I am keen to connect Nepali villages to and across the islands of Hawaii,” he added.
There is no specific data on the size of trade and tourism exchanges between Nepal and Hawaii. According to Poudel, the data is counted as a whole of the US rather than Hawaii’s separately. “One of my priorities is to track the actual size of Nepal-Hawaii trade and tourism exchanges. I have plans to build a database in coordination with the representatives of the nation of Hawaii,” he added.
Likewise, Poudel sees tourism as the prime sector to foster the economic diplomacy between Nepal and Hawaii. As a veteran travel entrepreneur, Poudel opines that there is a need for Nepal and Hawaii to come together and work more for travel and tourism development.
According to Poudel, Nepal’s landscape, especially the Himalayan range, can attract Hawaiian people. “Hawaiian tourists can be interested in adventure activities such as trekking, expedition, mountaineering, mountain flights, jungle safari, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, canoeing, paragliding, ultralight flights, and bungee jumping along with sightseeing and tours to the historic and cultural sites of Nepal. Likewise, Nepalis, who do not have access to the sea, will love Hawaii's seashores and beautiful beaches,” he added.
Poudel, however, sees the need to promote Nepal as a destination first as many people abroad do not recognise Nepal as a separate nation but rather as an Indian territory. He urged the government, private sector, and the Nepal Tourism Board to collaborate and promote Nepali tourism more effectively.
The seasoned entrepreneur has been working to promote village tourism for decades, and he has plans to promote all the missed out settlements in the remote regions of Nepal. The plan is simple - attracting Hawaiian tourists to all these rural areas and connecting them with the locals for their livelihood. “I will also promote Nepali tourism in other American destinations. It will help the villagers to earn their livelihood through tourism activities,” Poudel added.
Likewise, he also has plans to promote the export of Nepali handicrafts, textiles, and carpets to Hawaii. "Our products will add extra charm to the beautiful islands of Hawaii. Shortly, I have plans to organise a handicraft exhibition as well as a tourism promotion event to promote Nepali village tourism in Hawaii,” he added.
Poudel is keen on bringing in foreign direct investment (FDI) from Hawaii. “I am in close contact with the officials of Hawaii. On my next visit, I will meet those officials and tourism entrepreneurs there and present them with the investment opportunities in Nepal,” he said, adding: “However, the government has a crucial role to play. Foreign investors say that our investment policy is unfavourable for them. The government should make it easy and simple so that we can attract potential investors.”
Also, it could give us good results in achieving the mission of ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’, he said before concluding.