Putting Kashmir On The Map

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.

7 thoughts on “Putting Kashmir On The Map

    • Thanks for the Great links J&K Tourism! There are certainly some beautiful places to visit up there. In my several trips to Kashmir I’ve never felt unsafe and I’ve always enjoyed the beauty!

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  2. Hi,
    I am a research scholar from Kashmir only and I work on the “tourism development and its environmental impacts in Kashmir”. Could you please tell me about the environmental problems associated with tourism in Kashmir if any. Moreover can you please tell me in detail the problems that you faced while in Kashmir? My email id is:

    msaleemir@gmail.com

    I will highly appreciate if I get reply soon.

    Thanking you in anticipation.

    Regards,

    Saleem Mir

    • Thank you for your response Saleem. I think you are probably in the best position to tell us what the potential environmental consequences of bringing a large number of people into the mountains of Kashmir are. It would be an interesting research project, and would would be quite beneficial to in understanding how to sustainably develop tourism in Kashmir.

      With Kashmir poised to regain it’s position as a popular tourist destination I would challenge Kashmiris to think about what they want this to look like. Do you want the noise, crowds, strain on your natural systems that Goa has? Or the calm, serene, and empowering tourism that Kerala is attracting?

      Looking at RAXA Collective’s work in Kerala might help you to understand how tourism can add more than dollars to a region. http://raxacollective.com/initiatives.html

      As far as problems faced in Kashmir- I’ve never faced a single problem. I’ve always found the people to be very polite and accommodating, the natural beauty to be astounding, and political concerns to be the furthest thing from my mind.

      Saleem- you are from a very special place!

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