The Chinese government plans to spend £12 million on a new tourism complex at Everest base camp, including a mountaineering museum.
The complex, which will include the museum, a luxury hotel, a tourist centre and a helipad will be built in Tibet’s Gangkar township, close to the northern slope of Everest. The project is expcted to break ground in 2017, and be open by 2019.
It is hoped the new businesses will help boost the Tibetan economy and create new jobs in tourism for the locals. It should also help develop the the mountaineering industry.
In addition to the mountaineering museum, the new building will fulfil a number of other functions. These include:
- Housing medical services
- A base for a rescue team
- Support for mountaineers
- Sale of goods and services to skiers, paragliders and tour guides.
Nyima Tsering, the bureau’s deputy director, told China Daily, ‘The township is the best place to see the peaks of Qomolangma, Cho Oyu, Shishapangma, Lhotse and Makalu.
There will also be a mountaineering museum, rental and repair centres for cars, motorbikes and bicycles; and restaurants and accommodation.’
Although many people have welcomed the new plans, the development has been criticized by some. The helipad and the new infrastructure could attract an influx of rich tourists to Everest with little or no interest in mountaineering.
Mount Everest is already under some pressure, with increasing visitor numbers, creating lengthy queues to reach the summit during peak climbing season. There have also been problems with litter.
China Daily quotes blind Chinese alpinist Zhang Hong. “I’m very excited.The center could be helpful for me to fulfill my dreams.”
Also, 29-year-old alpinist Tsering Ngodrup, who pointed out how the region was developing as a service to mountaineers.
“Building a mountaineering center is a smart move. Many climbers are not confident in planning expeditions in the mountains (in Tibet) because there is a lack of basic services, ” he said. He thought that guaranteeing such services would be a major lift for the region’s mountaineering and outdoor sports industry.