Some revival may happen in the third quarter of 2021 and 2022: Jose Dominic

BW HOTELIER got in touch with Jose Dominic, CEO, CGH Earth Group, to learn about their success mantra to uphold sustainable hospitality amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Thriving with Nature

Elaborating on his mantra to mentor and grow the group over the years, Dominic said that the word Earth in CGH Earth stands for the core values of environmental sensitivity, inclusion, community, and local ethos. CGH expands to Clean, Green, and Healthy. According to Dominic, CGH Group's priority is the planet, then the community, and then the customer. They believe that the alert independent, the evolved customer will find value when the consumers' interest does not subjugate the interests of the environment and society. So, the group is maintaining a balance between all three. According to World Tourism Organization and international transport forums research released in December 2019, it was found that the tourism sector is going to increase its carbon dioxide emissions by at least 25 per cent by 2030. Keeping this in mind, reducing carbon footprints is one of theirs, as Dominic mentioned, 'cardinal objectives.' In many of their hotels, such as spice village and Mararikulam beach resort, Coconut lagoons, etc., they have installed roofs made of natural materials like coconut thatch or forest grass lends the air conditioning effect in addition to naturality.

When the public areas or hotels are not air-conditioned, almost 50 per cent of air conditioning, huge carbon generated is avoided by CGH Earth Hotels and Resorts. Dominic further elaborated on how CGH Earth Group maintains a model of sustainability. The architecture of their hotels makes it naturally ventilated. Besides, they follow a zero-waste policy which means that all biodegradable materials are put through a biodigester. It does not go to the municipal waste and then gets treated through the biodigester to produce gas. That gas is used in their kitchens for cooking as waste energy. In every hotel of theirs, they have a biodigester installed. All biodegradable material which is kitchen waste, kitchen cutting, waste food is collected in the biodigester. Also, they've connected their sewage system into the biodigester and the gas that comes out is utilized to burn as energy. This leads to a substantial saving in cost and a substantial reduction of carbon in the atmosphere.

Kerala and the New Normal

The COVID-19 was first discovered and hit Wuhan's wet markets. Many students from Kerala were studying in Wuhan back then. They came back to India, and the first COVID cases in India were discovered in Kerala.

After that, the Kerala government went on a war footing to arrest and contain the virus's spread. The first immediate step taken was to put all the visitors into quarantine. Simultaneously the state government quarantined all foreign visitors. And people coming from other countries and states were restricted from entering Kerala. The Kerala government took very early action. That is why the number of infected people in Kerala was initially controlled, winning acknowledgment, praise for Kerala's timely action across the world. Now the numbers have been increasing as more and more people are getting exposed. But it is rare, but COVID has been a catastrophe to Kerala, the rest of India, and the world itself.

Segmenting the timeline into 'before COVID,' 'during COVID' and 'post COVID' phases, Dominic stated that we are now living in the second phase 'during COVID.' At the same time, they hope to have a post-COVID phase soon. However, the vaccination has recently started. The vaccination of the healthcare and frontline workers will be followed by the vaccination of people over the age of 50 years and people under 50 years with comorbidities. Dominic hopes to enter a phase where we will see a decline of COVID and life returning to normalcy. But before that happens, the hotel is making sure that people adapt to the new normal by wearing a mask, social distancing, and following all the safety protocols. Dominic asserts that the safety protocols will be continued for at least one or two years.

Taking calculated steps to ensure Safety and Revival

In the initial phase from March 2020, tourism was the first hit, the worst hit, and the longest hit. Their occupancies, at the lockdown time and in the initial phases, dropped to virtually zero. Now, slowly, they are seeing a slow rise, especially the resort properties. The first numbers began to show slight improvement November 2020, December 2020. January 2021. In those three months, they might have come to 50 or 60 per cent occupancy, but presently, they are still seeing very low numbers. Any return to normalcy can only be expected when the COVID is under control.

For CGH Earth Group, their first immediate priority is to ensure their staff's safety, protect the local inhabitants of the place where they work and the guest. Everything else comes after that. So, to ensure safety, they are following the highest safeguards. When people come in, their bags, shoes, and vehicles are sanitised. Besides, in every step, social distancing, wearing a mask are insisted upon. When a guest goes to have a meal at the CGH Earth hotels and resorts, they go to the counter and indicate the staff about their needs, then the staff who is properly protected, takes care of the food and puts it on the guests' plates. Moreover, between every checkout and check in rooms are completely sanitized and a gap of 24 hours is observed between one checkout and one check-in.

Painting a Hospitable Future 

According to GLS hotel momentum India report, India's hospitality sectors about 43.5 per cent decline in revenue per available room in h1 2020 over the same period last year, especially due to this COVID-19 impact 2021 is being deemed as the year of revival. Commenting on the future of sustainability in the hospitality industry, in the backdrop of the pandemic, Dominic stated that 2020 had been a disaster as it witnessed a revenue decline of higher than 40 per cent or, in some cases, 50 per cent. And in 2021, a new phenomenon is visible. While foreign tourism has remained at zero, local tourism has seen a sharp rise. The people are getting out of their 'lockdown' houses to holiday at the hotels. Dominic highlighted that the trend is more visible outside the city, in resort properties. Within the city, the situation is worse than in the resort areas. And travel undertaken these days is only for leisure holidays whereas business travel is almost zero. Dominic called 2020 as washed out; he thinks that 2021 will not be any better. However, he predicted that some revival might happen in the third quarter of 2021 and 2022. And perhaps, the foreign travel will begin in the third quarter of 2022 and 2023.

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled '6TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL ISSUE VOL 7, ISSUE 1'

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