Guest Author: CJ Fonzi
I recently received this link from a Facebook friend. One of those Facebook friends that you meet on an adventure somewhere, instantly bond with, keep in touch with forever. This particular guy is an oil engineer from Norway- an unlikely friend of a sustainable business consultant in New York City. But that is what travel and exploration are all about.
Kashmir- the name brings images of war, struggle, and International politics. But to those of us who have been there the images that come to mind are more like the ones shown here.
The village is called Gulmarg and it hands down has the best skiing in the world. In 2002 the Indian Government built the gondola, opening up what I believe to be the best lift access skiing on Earth. The gondola may or may not have been built to allow easier access to a military base at 14,000 feet, but die hard skiers have been making their way to Kashmir ever since.
Until a few years ago, there was not a single heated hotel room in town- that has changed with several comfortable affordable options. In my last 4 trips to Gulmarg the Gondola has run less than 50% of the time, but as the article above boasts- the new chairlift that has been build will be able to run most days. Gulmarg is growing up, and with it I think there is an opportunity.
This is my challenge for Raxa Collective readers: How can we leverage this opportunity? Is there a way to bring sustainable tourism to Kashmir? Is there a way to build awareness of the struggles of the Kashmiri people through tourism? How might one leverage the natural beauty, world class skiing, and stunning landscapes to give the people of this land an edge? How might Kashmir look to protect these natural wonders and guard against unsustainable tourism and environmental degradation?
If we can succeed in answering those questions in a way that addresses all these challenges, then in this case the sky may truly be the limit.
About the author: CJ Fonzi holds an MBA in Sustainable Global Enterprise from Cornell’s Johnson School. He has lived and worked globally, including 2 years spent in India with the Clinton Foundation. CJ is now a Manager at the Global Impact Investing Network in New York.