Sustainable India Journeys: Eco-Tourism Blossoms
“I love India! I hate India!“ These are the two diverse answers Indian travel blogger Sankara gets about the country of extremes.
India, this means: vibrant mega cities, stunning architecture, colorful saris, the place of origin of Yoga and beguiling odors. However also extreme poverty, an unfair caste system and tremendous environmental pollution characterize the South Asian state.
Nevertheless, India ranks number one in a study that describes consumer behavior toward environmentally sustainable consumption worldwide. Thanks to people as blogger Sankara and hotelier George Dominic.
Indians think sustainable
In the 2014 National Geographic/GlobeScan Consumer Greendex, 18 countries were analyzed on how people behave concerning transportation, their food sources, energy use, but also their knowledge and attitudes towards sustainability in general. It is the third time that India’s people are ranked as the most overall invested when it comes to sustainability decisions and behavior. We asked two Indians about this result and talked about sustainable tourism.
Indian travel blogger dreams of sustainable tourism
With his blog “Be On the Road”, Sankara is one of India’s Top-10 travel bloggers. He enjoys discovering the different sides India has to offer. Sankara: “From the mighty Himalayas to the steamy green rainforest and from the beautiful tropical islands to the heart of Hindu spirituality – that’s my India”. For Sankara, sustainable travel is essential, because “pretty soon, beautiful landscapes will turn into concrete jungles with the way the world is traveling these days. Sustainable travel must be implemented.”
A green hotel for future generations
“All of us want the future generations to enjoy the world as we and our previous generations did”, Sankara notes. His aim is that his “sons and daughters will see the beauty of the world” the way he saw it during many travels.
Sankara’s personal dream: One day he wants to build a 100 percent green hotel property that “will sustain itself completely on renewable sources of energy. And organic materials should be used so that the nature merges with it.”
Three hotels for sustainable tourism
Another green Indian voice can be heard within the halls of Casino Group Hotels (CGH) Earth. To present their core concept of “Clean, Green, Healthy” the family business re-branded their name and added ‘Earth’. “This was not only a re-birth, but also a manifestation of our values of respect towards the environment and local communities we implemented from the very beginning”, explains the director Jose Dominic.
The founder of CGH Earth hotels, Dominic Joseph Sr., taught his sons how important respect for the land and people is. He describes it like this: “The blood flowing through our veins was that of a farmer. We are living with respect for the land and the people whose land we share.”
Behind CGH Earth, there is a deep understanding for the relationship between people and nature. George the son of Joseph points out:
“It is no longer about India and the rest of the world. Boundaries are man-made, not by nature. It is as much as every humans concern who share space on this earth.”
Unique sustainable architecture
Three hotels of the group are Green Pearls members and each is sustainably unique in its own way:
1. The Coconut Lagoon Resort mansions are more than 150 years old. Visitors can relax in the butterfly garden or in the Ayurveda wellness center.
2. Marari Beach is not only a home for beach lovers but also for 80 different bird species, who will entertain the eco-tourists.
3. At Spice Village a stay does not feel like walking on 35 acres of hotel grounds, but rather like a holiday in a botanical garden.
For owner George, it’s important to point out that there are in fact destinations in India where people can co-exist with nature and still enjoy life to its fullest. In the case of CGH Earth, the resorts are placed as part of nature: natural materials are used to experience it on your own.
Cultural responsibility and fair wages
Moreover, their focus lays not only on the sustainability of nature, but also on sustaining communities in the area. They incorporate indigenous practices into their own work ethnics, to keep these important cultural things alive. People from local communities are also employed at CGH Earth hotels, while local tribes are shown organic farming practices to preserve their lifestyle. “It is all about giving back to the community which gave us so much in the past”, stresses George.
“Throughout the 20th century we thought that urban settings are nature’s opposite. But it is vice versa: Nature is not something ‘out there’, it’s in fact the very stuff of cities and countryside alike. It is the bundle of chemical processes on which all living things depend.”
Two voices – one aim: sustainable traveling in India
Both points of view – one of a hotel owner and one of a passionate traveler – are rare and important. George and Sankara agree that sustainable travel is inevitable, especially with regards to environmental pollution problems in the country.
Next time when you think about traveling in India, consider maybe green traveling and keep the pictures and the visions in mind of people, such as George from CGH Earth and Sankara from “Be On The Road”.