A pioneer of sustainability – Jose Dominic from CGH Earth
It’s hard to believe but one of the pioneers of sustainable tourism, Jose Dominic, didn’t even intend to work in the tourism industry! Dominic was newly married and stood at the beginning of a promising career in Bombay when his father became sick in the late 1950s and wanted him to take over the management of his Casino Hotel and the Casino Group. He hesitated, but in the end he agreed to manage it for two years until one of his younger brothers would have finished his studies and could replace him. Only it never got that far: Dominic discovered his passion for tourism and from then on expanded the hotel as well as the Casino Group.
Pristine nature is all you need
The year 1987 brought some pioneering changes: Dominic answered an invitation by the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and submitted an expression of interest for the touristic development of the island Bangaram (located in front of the coast of Kerala). Even though his primary motive in taking part was to get to know the island, he was impressed by the unspoiled nature of the island and convinced the government with his approach: he wanted to keep most of the nature and integrate the hotel the least invasive way. And he kept his word. He prohibited fishing in the lagoon and set up a waste management system. Additionally the furniture and the service of the hotel was a far cry from what a lot of people would call luxury as there was noch AC or TV, hot water or room service. Instead Dominic saw the pristine nature as the most important indulgence guests could experience.
Keeping up with the traditions
Dominic and the Casino Group started more and more projects, each single one of them honouring the nature and culture in its own way. The Spice Village in Thekkady, in the South of India, is built like an old mountain village. They used traditional techniques, e.g. hats with thatched-roofs made out of elephant grass. The Coconut Lagoon was built using material from 150 years old, destroyed houses while the Marari Beach Resort consists of 16 hats with coconut palm thatched-roofs arranged like an old fishing village. Keeping up with these traditional construction methods also means supporting local craftsmen. With all the resorts being established, the concept of responsible tourism had been realised, something that was unknown before in the region of Kerala. Dominic is convinced that his philosophy is the basis for the success: „Less is more – and it succeeded because of, and not in spite of, this philosophy.“
Responsible tourism is the future
Eventually the Casino Group was renamed into CGH Earth, with CGH standing for „Casino Group of Hotels“ – but also describing the core values of the company „Clean, Green and Healthy“. In the beginning he couldn’t have imagined how great his influence in the tourism in Kerala would be. By now CGH Earth has opened 15 resorts and Jose Dominic is still in charge. Today he also engages in panels on responsible tourism and is one of the founder-members of the Ecotourism Society of India. Looking into the future of tourism he is convinced that responsible tourism is the only option: „Tourism is about how much we can preserve of our ecology, heritage, culture and community. I believe responsible tourism is the only option that will work.“