Huang Nubo, who chairs Chinese investment company Zhongkun Group which this week acquired a 75 percent share of the land Grímsstadir á Fjöllum in northeast Iceland, said in an interview with Morgunbladid that he has been fond of the country ever since lopi, Icelandic wool, kept him warm 30 years ago while he was studying at the Peking University with his Icelandic friends.
A traditional Icelandic lopapeysa, a sweater made from lopi, wool from Icelandic sheep. Photo by Janne Kristensen.
Among Huang’s Icelandic schoolmates was Hjörleifur Sveinbjörnsson. “He envisions that Iceland will become the world’s next tourism paradise,” Sveinbjörnsson told Fréttabladid of his friend, who has also invested in tourism in China, the US and Japan.
Provided Icelandic authorities approve of his plans, a 120-room luxury hotel will rise at Grímsstadir in the next three to four years, in addition to a golf course and horse stable.
The land lies close to major attractions such as lake Mývatn, Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Ásbyrgi nature reserve, Mt. Herdubreid, the volcano Askja and the mountain range Kverkfjöll, to name a few.
“There are places like Iceland, especially its northern part, which are the future paradises of environmental tourism,” Huang told Morgunbladid. He is now looking for land in Reykjavík to construct Zhongkun Group’s headquarters and another hotel.
“I will build a five-star 300-room hotel in Reykjavík suited for international conferences,” he said. “The total investment at this stage will be close to ISK 20 billion (USD 175 million, EUR 121 million).”
According to Fréttabladid, he is even thinking of having an airline transport guests between the two hotels.
Huang focuses on environmental tourism which wealthy Chinese tourists are increasingly seeking. He emphasizes protecting and improving the environment at Grímsstadir and wants to work with the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, as stated in Morgunbladid.
Sveinbjörnsson believes the development will have a positive impact on Icelandic tourism, especially in the northeast. “It is ambitious tourism. It is green and will deliver considerable money to the country,” he told Fréttabladid.
Director of Tourism Ólöf Ýrr Atladóttir welcomes these plans, declaring them great news, pointing out that investments in tourism on this scale have never taken place in Iceland before.
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