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The Czech Republic inaugurates its Honorary Consulate in Honolulu, Hawaii

On Feb 16, 2012, Czech Republic inaugurated its Honorary Consulate in Honolulu, Hawaii. The new Czech consular post was officially opened by Czech Ambassador Petr Gandalovic at a special ceremony attended by the Governor of Hawaii Neil Abercrombie, and other representatives of the Aloha State.

Consular jurisdiction of the Honorary Consulate of Czech Republic in Honolulu covers the entire State of Hawaii. The consular post is headed by Ann Suzuki Ching, graduate of the University of Hawaii, President and COO of Hawaiian Pacific Travel, Ltd. 

The Czech Republic is well aware of the strategic potential Hawaii offers, serving as a bridge between Asia and USA, and of its role in cultural exchange and importance for future development of mutual relations. This led the government of the Czech Republic to strengthen its presence in Hawaii in the form of first formalized official representation. The Honorary Consulate in Honolulu will generate support to economic and commercial relations, increase of cultural exchange, promote tourism, will play unifying and supportive role in compatriot relations, and will provide services in consular matters. Its presence will help improve the accessibility of consular services to the Czech Republic nationals in the region and at the same time, present the Czech Republic and bring it closer to local communities and general public. The Honorary Consulate in Honolulu is the eighteenth commissioned Honorary Consulate of Czech Republic in the United States, not including three Consulates General and the Embassy.

As far as consular matters are concerned, its agenda includes assisting Czech nationals in need, especially tourists, who might find themselves in difficult situations. Czech citizens now have an easier time traveling to the US due to the acceptance of the Czech Republic into the Visa Waiver Program. More and more Czechs are now visiting Hawaii for vacation, attracted by its climate, sunny beaches and nature beauties. In this regard, the Honorary Consulate will partially collaborate with the Consulate General in Los Angeles on issuing emergency travel documents.

The consulate will also provide notary functions to the public, namely in regard of documents to be used in Czech Republic. From now on, there will be no need to travel to Los Angeles or another distant Consulate of the Czech Republic for notarizations.

Ann Suzuki Ching, a graduate of St. Andrew’s Priory and the University of Hawaii, she is President and COO of Hawaiian Pacific Travel, Ltd. A life Certified Travel Consultant (CTC) member of The Travel Institute, she has traveled extensively throughout the world, visiting the Czech Republic on multiple occasions. Amazed by Czech history and culture, she saw great opportunity to enrich the communities in Hawaii with Czech culture, render support to the Czech community in Hawaii and support mutual business relations. Selected as the 13th Cherry Blossom Queen, she helped promote the Japanese culture in Hawaii and Japan.

Interview with Ann Suzuki Ching, the newly appointed Honorary Consul

Q: How did you come up with the idea to become the Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic? Do you have a special connection to the Czech Republic?
A: In 2006, a very dear Czech friend, Mr. Zikmund Teba, of Los Angeles, informed me that the Czech Republic was interested in establishing an Honorary Czech Consulate in Hawaii and whether I would be interested in becoming the Honorary Czech Consul. After consulting with Dean Emeritus Laurence Vogel, my Australian Czech friend, Alex Rayner, and his late father Jaroslav (Jerry) Zahradka whom we had visited in Sydney, Australia, I informed Mr. Teba of my interest. So Mr. Teba recommended me and presented my name for this prestigious position. Much appreciation also to Chief Justice Ronald Moon, the Office of Senator Daniel K. Akaka and to all my friends and colleagues for their unending and continued support of my appointment. Local Czech residents, Vatzy Penkava and Michelle Novakova, have been most helpful to me in this new, exciting and sometimes demanding position.

Q: Do you any know any honorary consuls of other countries based in Hawaii? Did you take their advise before applying for the position?
A: We have a very active Consular Corps of Hawaii.  Please view our website:  www.consularcorpshawaii.org

Q: What are you most looking forward to in the new position?
A: My goal is to encourage and promote business, culture, travel, trade and economic interest between the Czech Republic and the State of Hawaii.

Q: The consulate has been open for a couple of weeks, what are your first impressions?
A: It's a very exciting and busy time for me.  I am looking forward to the work, helping the Czech people who need my aid and do my best to represent the Czech Republic in Hawaii.

Q: If I could only visit one island in Hawaii which one would you recommend and why?
A: All the islands are different so it is difficult to recommend just one, but it would be the island of Hawaii, nicknamed the "Big Island" as it is the largest.  It has all the active volcanos, very green areas, snow, lovely beaches and a very interesting place to visit.