How was breakfast for you this morning? I'm here to serve you some fresh opinions on a platter, if you can stomach it.
Just when I start thinking that the travel industry is moving towards a more sustainable form of travel, bizarre news from some part of the world shakes my belief. This time the upsetting news is closer to home.
A Nepal-based travel company has launched an ultra-luxurious experience that takes visitors on a helicopter ride from Lukla to Kongde in the Everest region to the highest mountain resort, Yeti Mountain Home, for breakfast. The experience is limited to a mere 15 minutes to avoid altitude sickness in tourists, who will be flown to the spot without any prior acclimatisation.
It's essential to talk about the implications of tours like these since this time the eco-sensitive Everest region is at stake. Helicopter rides to inaccessible mountainous regions are not new and are often a debatable mode of transport in the hills. The exponentially increasing carbon footprint due to facilities like these, make the travel community question these special luxury provisions.
Here's a video of the experience for some perspective.
Now, I'm sure there's a section of travellers who are simply floored by the idea of making it to this exclusive destination, noteworthily the Everest region, even if just for a short breakfast. The helicopter ride from Lukla to Kongde leaves you in the middle of the snow-clad ranges of the Himalayas with a view of some of the highest mountains in the region.
But some of us cringe. Why, you ask?
Because the touristy privilege has made its way to the highest spot on the map, this time with a glass of champagne in hand. The concerned travel company advertises it as a 'once in a lifetime' experience for travellers and often boasts the stories of participants 'scaling' the Everest, and we're left confused.
China has previously been criticised for opening up the Everest region from the Tibetan side for commercial travel and purists have hated it. A winding paved road leads to the settlement at 14000ft from the Tibetan side of the Everest where ski resorts, adventure companies, hotels and restaurants thrive. Believe it or not, there's even a museum at that altitude. Hundreds of bloggers have come out to express their disgust over trading the unspoiled beauty of the Everest region with the promotion of tourism.
And now services like 'Everest for Breakfast' signal a transition of the mountain range into a crowd pleaser.
The practice is not new and similar services have opened worldwide to improve accessibility to mountainous regions. But at a time when several organisations are looking for methods to sustainably rebuild Nepal after the devastating earthquakes in 2015, these to and fro helicopter rides for breakfast in an eco-sensitive zone are regressive and rather callous. Shrinking the carbon footprint in the travel sector is the need of the hour. Sustainability is the solution, and I hope it's not the first time you hear about it.