Demetrios A Theophylactou is the High Commissioner of Cyprus to India, also accredited to Nepal. Theophylactou is presently in Nepal for enhancing bilateral relationship between Nepal and Cyprus.
Talking to Sujan Dhungana of Republica, Theophylactou said that Nepal and Cyprus have common economic foundations-tourism and culture, and thus, both the countries can work together in these areas to promote bilateral relationship, trade and tourism. Excerpts:
Nepal and Cyprus traditionally share excellent relationship because both the countries are relatively small and both went through similar development processes. However, Cyprus went through quicker development, particularly after it joined the European Union (EU). Besides having common interests and challenges, Nepal and Cyprus also rely on same economic foundations that are tourism and culture. This commonality has made Nepal and Cyprus share bilaterally strong ties. There are many ways in which we can work together, basically in terms of tourism as Cyprus has comparatively achieved a lot in tourism.
Though Nepal and Cyprus both rely heavily on tourism for economic development, the latter has achieved a lot. Where do you think Nepal is lacking in terms of tourism development?
The number of tourists visiting Cyprus is three times the country's population and the flow of foreign tourists is increasing every year. Cyprus has a very active tourism policy which focuses on quality tourism. Similarly, infrastructure development is also the key to tourism growth in Cyprus. Cyprus also has varieties of tourism products which gets attention of international tourists. Cleanest water resources of the world, and cultural and natural diversity along with beautiful mountains are also the other backbones of tourism in Cyprus.
In case of Nepal, I believe that proper connectivity and effective tourism marketing are the major factors for sluggish tourism growth. Compared to Cyprus, Nepal also offers limited variety of tourism products to visitors. Other factors like peace, stability and prosperity is much needed for the growth of tourism industry in any nation. Nepal should develop both physical and social infrastructure for tourism development. Social infrastructure means that there should not be any type of unrests and tourists should feel that they are secured on visiting any country.
Nepal is celebrating 2018 as 'Visit Nepal Year', aiming to attract large number of international tourist and revive the quake-hit tourism sector. How can Cyprus help Nepal in this direction?
Currently we have been trying to coordinate with the tourism ministry of Nepal to work together and promote certain campaign and to market Nepal even better globally. We are also trying to work on different projects, one of which is related to climbing, so that Nepal gets better publicity. We have to be smart and creative in our tourism campaign to get the attention of international tourists and show that even there was a quake in Nepal, things have gone stable here. Nepal should promote its tourism features through some gala events for publicity, as many countries have been doing this to promote tourism.
There are many other ways Cyprus and Nepal can work together to enhance tourism in Nepal. Nepal can also follow the same path of tourism development that Cyprus followed. Cyprus basically receives Nepali students who come for further education. Nepal has to make best use of these students and their experience in Nepal. Instead of agreements to promote tourism and bilateral relationship, we should develop concrete, feasible and pragmatic plans and serve step by step.
Trade relation between Nepal and Cyprus is weak with bilateral trade of less than Rs 10 million annually. What do you think are the reasons?
Yes, the trade between Nepal and Cyprus is low. It might be because of lack of infrastructure facility with Nepal and for Nepal being a landlocked country. In general, however, Cyprus has not exposed much with Asia in terms of trade. Our trade is much focused on Europe and Gulf countries. But we are opening up and being more active in Asia, in countries like China and India. I believe if we do trade with these countries, it will benefit Nepal as well.