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The Most Dangerous Ski Resort in the World

Historically, Kashmir has been known more for its violent conflicts than for its tourist attractions. As late as 2002, India and Pakistan were involved in a near nuclear standoff over the disputed region. Over the past 25 years or so, tens of thousands of people, some foreign tourists included, have lost their lives in the territorial dispute. Today the territory remains on most Western countries’ do- not-travel lists.

In recent years, relations between India and Pakistan have been improving, though human rights abuses and military attacks continue.

However, one part of Kashmir, the town of Gulmarg, has experienced relative peace. Tourism is increasing and some believe it is playing a role in the growing peace process.

Two years ago, Gulmarg opened a high-altitude gondola and primitive ski resort, providing skiers with access to an undeveloped mountain, long runs, accessible back country and very few people. In December and January last year, 2,500 skiers from all parts of the world visited the town.

According to the Independent, locals are welcoming tourists, both for the economic opportunities and for the chance to introduce foreigners to their plight. “Even the militants want tourists to come so that foreigners can see the situation,” says Fayaz Ahmad, general manager of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation.

Many feel that tourism “can do more to stabilize the region than international diplomacy” according to the Independent.

Locals hope that their new ski mountain will one day rank among the top resorts in the world.

For now, they may have to remain satisfied with temporary peace, thawing relations between opposing sides and the hopes of finding a lasting solution.

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