PATA's Interview with Mallika Naguran of Gaia Discovery

On the 31st of January 2018, Ms. Chi Lo the Sustainability & Social Responsibility Specialist of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) conducted an interview with Mallika Naguran, the managing editor of Gaia Discovery and the Gaia Guide. In this article, Naguran shares how she first started Gaia Discovery, her motivations on eco living and sustainable travel as well as her insights on travel trends in Asia Pacific.

Here is an excerpt.

Hi Mallika! The tables have turned! You do a lot of interviewing, now it’s time for someone to interview you! To start things off, tell us a little bit about your road to Gaia Discovery.


It sure has! Thank you for this opportunity to tell my story. I spent the initial years of my career in publishing and public relations working in both the private and public sectors. At that time, while raising my two children, I was in the telecommunications and IT industry. After more than a decade, tired of being a corporate slave, I switched to being a freelance writer with a number of travel and lifestyle publications. As I traveled to write, I saw that development for tourism often took its toll on the environment and society. However few publications at that time wanted that kind of story. The prettier the scenery, the better the story it seemed. I was troubled. When the awareness of climate change was at its peak, with Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth documentary released, I felt concerned and asked myself what my response should be to environmental issues. It dawned on me that I could start a publication that focused on sustainable tourism and living, and decided to keep it online so as to avoid using paper material. That’s how Gaia Discovery began, and that was in 2008. This interview is timely as we approach our tenth anniversary and have a good following from readers worldwide.

2. Where does the name Gaia come from? What inspired it?

My features editor Jeremy Torr suggested the name Gaia when we were thinking of a name for the online publication. I decided to research into the name, and was rather taken in after reading Dr. James Lovelock’s The Revenge of Gaia where he explained the Gaia Hypothesis. In his book he warned how the delicate balance of nature within the synergistic and self-regulating Earth could be upset if any of the major organic or inorganic elements was out of sorts with the other. His friend and author William Golding who wrote Lord of the Flies was the one to suggest to James Lovelock that he could name his hypothesis after Gaia, the Greek Goddess of Earth. To most people today, Gaia is understood as simply Mother Earth. Gaia Discovery’s name was inspired by this theory as the editorial focuses on conserving the balance of nature and sustainable development.

What is your favourite part about working with Gaia Discovery?

Telling a good story and from the heart. I love to come across genuine people with extraordinary accomplishments. I like giving such people exposure so that others can read about what they do so as to learn or be inspired. Gaia Discovery has a People section where we have featured hoteliers, tour operators, scientists, environmentalists and so on. We like to break new stories under the Planet section where we cover a range of environmental topics from energy, water, waste, ecology to reforestation. In featuring tourism, we review responsibly run resorts and destinations under Places section. Nothing thrills me more than meeting an operator who is passionate about sustainability and builds a memorable eco-resort or boosts the livelihoods of communities against all odds. So it is in meeting the unexpected that I cherish about the job.

To read the rest of the interview, please go to PATA.