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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Our aim is to present Goa’s rich cultural tapestry in a sustainable manner: Blive CEO & Co-founder Samarth Kholkar

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Travelling is always fun, and there certainly is no lack of serene places in our beautiful country. One such amazing destination, which is immensely popular among tourists, not only across India, but also attracts visitors from all over the globe. This is the smallest state of India, Goa. Be it the tranquil lap of nature for the right kind of rejuvenation, or the enthusiastic hustle bustle of a party in a crazy club, Goa has it all.

But with all the fun that comes along travelling and tourism, arises a major hazard, which is the deterioration of the environment, its flora, fauna, and the very air quality. What is directly proportional to the increase in tourist footfall in any place, is the number of vehicles which are used by them to travel and commute. And as the number of vehicles, and hence their harmful emissions into the atmosphere augment, the environment gets adversely affected.

But imagine, what if, travelling becomes even more fun, that too without the guilt of damaging the environment? In Goa, this has been realized by BLive, India’s first EV-tourism initiative, by assimilating technology with travelling.

BLive is a travel tech platform that offers immersive experiential tours powered by smart and savvy electric bikes. The e-bike tours provide an intimate local experience and it is taken a notch higher by combining it with the simple joy of cycling. The tours are driven by the locals and offer a glimpse of the quintessential Goan culture. The effortless riding on e-bikes enhances the experience and makes it extraordinary.

The story of BLive started in early 2018 when two friends, Samarth Kholkar (Co-Founder & CEO), and Sandeep Mukherjee (Co-founder & COO), living in remote geographies, decided to come together to find an effective sustainable solution. With Sandeep’s exposure to electric vehicles in Europe, and Samarth’s knowledge of the tourism industry in Goa, they launched India’s first EV-tourism initiative.

To find out how this novel idea of EV-tourism was born and took shape, Sonakshi Datta of GoaChronicle had a word with Samarth Kholkar, Co-founder and CEO, BLive.

What made you first reckon that Goa was in need of ‘sustainable tourism’?

The recognition of Goa’s need for sustainable tourism emerged from the stark contrast between its resident population, which is around 1.5 million, and the overwhelming influx of over 10 million tourists annually. This immense disparity places considerable strain on the environment, local infrastructure, and cultural integrity. To mitigate these pressures and preserve Goa’s unique charm, adopting sustainable practices became imperative.

Sustainability is not just about environmental conservation; it also encompasses the preservation of local cultures and traditions. BLive E-Bike Tours’ aim was to present Goa’s rich cultural tapestry in a manner that is respectful and sustainable, ensuring that the beauty and integrity of the region are maintained for future generations. By integrating sustainable methods like electric cycles, we not only reduce environmental impact but also offer a genuine, immersive experience that honour Goa’s culture, arts, and crafts.

How will you describe the transition from working in the F&B and marketing industries to come up with the first EV tourism initiative?

Transitioning from the F&B and marketing sectors to launching an EV tourism initiative was a journey of growth and learning. Years of experience in these industries, coupled with global travel, provided me with a unique perspective on how cultural and natural heritage should be showcased. This exposure highlighted the importance of presenting culture in an authentic and respectful manner.

When the opportunity arose to partner with an organization that shared the vision of sustainable tourism, it felt like a natural progression. The idea of combining my background with a sustainable initiative, especially through the lens of electric vehicles (EVs), seemed like the perfect way to contribute to the preservation of Goa’s heritage and environment.

What makes ‘EV tourism’ a must-try for tourists in Goa?

EV tourism in Goa offers a distinct and immersive experience that stands out from conventional tourism. It is not just about the mode of transport; it is about a novel way of exploring. Tourists get the opportunity to visit offbeat places and engage with local art, craft, and cuisine in a manner that is far removed from commercial tourist circuits.

This form of tourism enables visitors to experience the authentic essence of Goa, contributing to the retention of its core cultural and environmental fabric. Moreover, the use of electric vehicles adds an element of sustainability, allowing tourists to explore responsibly without leaving a substantial carbon footprint.

How was your brainchild of ‘EV tourism’ turned into a reality? What all components were put together, and how; to implement your novel idea on ground?

For BLive, turning the concept of EV tourism into reality involved a multifaceted approach. Firstly, we focused on community engagement, collaborating with locals who brought invaluable expertise and skills. This helped in curating unique and authentic experiences.

We also prioritized safety and other logistical aspects to ensure a seamless and secure experience for tourists. The implementation of the idea was not just about showcasing Goa’s beauty uniquely; it was also about integrating the concept of sustainable mobility into the tourism experience. This leads us to the BLive EV store concept, which emerged as an extension of EV tourism. Having experienced electric vehicles during their tours, tourists and locals alike started showing interest in integrating EVs into their daily lives.

The BLive EV store concept was introduced to facilitate this transition, offering an accessible way for people to own EVs. This not only promotes sustainable mobility but also helps in creating a lasting impact on the adoption of eco-friendly practices beyond the realm of tourism.

Apart from Goa, what are the other Indian states with BLive EV tourism? How will you describe the expansion of BLive services out of Goa?

As of now, BLive’s EV tourism initiatives are uniquely positioned in Goa, where we have established a successful model combining sustainable tourism with an immersive cultural experience. However, we recognize the potential and demand for similar experiences in other parts of India.

 

 

Sonakshi Datta
Sonakshi Datta
Journalist who wants to cover the truth which others look the other way from.

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