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Peter Beckingham

Former governor in Turks and Caicos Islands

Part of UK in India

10th August 2012

Small state, big opportunities – Goa entices UK visitors

Goa could hardly be a bigger contrast with its neighbouring State of Maharashtra. Unlike Maharashtra’s huge population there are less than 1.5M in Goa’s attractive State, and its capital Panjim has around 115,000 inhabitants at the most.Goa beach

Most visitors to India associate Goa primarily with its fine beaches, exotic tropical terrain and Portuguese ancestry. But as the new Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar,  made clear to me recently, it is a lot more than that, with some of the country’s most progressive educational institutes, an important base for a number of industries, especially in pharmaceuticals, and a significant mining and shipping industry.

I talked with the Chief Minister about some of the areas where UK companies might make more inroads, and we identified infrastructure, waste management and sea transport as among the areas there could be scope for collaboration. I’m pleased to say that I know of some UK companies in the infrastructure space which are already looking at some useful business prospects. There is a small but active British Business Group (BBG) branch in Goa under its enthusiastic chair Beryl Nasse, which meets periodically, and they are keen to support UK companies looking to capitalise on any opportunities in the State, which also include  medical tourism and entertainment and leisure facilities.

When I visited Goa recently, as well as on previous occasions, I have had an opportunity to see some of its largest private businesses. The Chowgule Group is one of them, and their range of interests include shipbuilding, mining, education and, most recently, port building. The Group has completed the first stage of a new port facility between Goa and Mumbai, and is optimistic it will be able to capitalise on the large volumes of manufactured goods leaving India, especially from the Pune region.

courtesy chowgulesteamships.co.inThe Chowgule Group has some links with the UK, especially in shipbuilding, has a small ship broking office in London, and is also keen to establish ties with some UK universities with its popular and highly regarded College in Margao.  Its director studied at Sussex University. Among its new plans are the development of a maritime course, building on the expertise in shipping in Goa, and again there could be openings for UK expertise.

The closest existing UK links with Goa are, as the Chief Minister needed no reminding, in tourism. For many years the UK was the largest source of foreign tourists, with British visitors taking advantage of plentiful package flights and affordable hotels to enjoy Goa’s beaches and regional cuisine. More recently the advent of new charters has propelled Russia to the number one slot, over-taking the 115,000 British travellers annually  to Goa. British tour operators have indicated they would like to develop   upmarket packages in Goa, which is certainly showing no let up in hotel expansion.

Some British visitors have been so charmed by Goa that they have decided to invest in property in the State. The numbers do not compare to   British purchasers in Spain,  France and other Mediterranean destinations, but regrettably some of the UK buyers have also discovered , like others nearer to Britain, that this is not a straightforward business. The High Commission knows of many instances where purchasers have bought a property and have become embroiled in drawn out and frequently expensive litigation in Goa.

The new Chief Minister indicated that his Government would try and look favourably on some of the more difficult cases, so long as the property was of a purely private nature, and the High Commission’s Consular Directorate  in Delhi is about to put out an update on our work over this difficult and stressful issue. Hopefully, although there are unlikely to be any quick fixes, the new Government’s interest in the issue will help ensure progress for at least some caught up in disputes. In the meantime the best advice is to take great care before rushing into a long term purchase agreement in Goa, certainly no less than you would do in the UK, and, most important, secure independent legal advice. If it looks too easy, it probably isn’t being done right!

Inevitably some UK visitors have also experienced difficulties – stolen passports and petty crime being the most frequent– for which we have a small British Nationals’ Assistance team, who have recently moved to new offices in Panjim, to try and help. Tragically they are also sometimes called on  to help with some high profile murder cases and prisoner issues, and the Chief Minister left me and my consular colleagues in no doubt that he intends to take a rigorous line in tackling crime in Goa, although  investigations and progress on routine work such as compiling toxicology reports continues to be lengthy.

For most short-term visitors to Goa the State offers wonderful opportunities for a relaxing holiday. As it has among the highest GDP of any Indian State, and its new Government appears determined to enhance the infrastructure and investment opportunities, it could just be a State also worth taking a side-trip to for business purposes, as a few UK companies are discovering.

9 comments on “Small state, big opportunities – Goa entices UK visitors

  1. Sir,
    Goa being in develpment stage compared to other states in India.yes.most of goans origins r not so upto those who comes from other parts of india.They have money n ideas n proper study what Goa need in Tourism n other field as u mentioned.Look at our graduates n non-experienced students from Goa,running after white coller jobs n shipping n gulf or european job market.Look at our employment exchange who gets jobs?Look at families having all their son or daughters get job in govt.organisation.Need of the hour to study all this negative impact going on in goa.You r wellconme in Goa very much n see that not only govt n big houses gets very much benefits but also small n middle class people of goa !
    Thanks for allowing to share my inner comment.

  2. Dear Mr. Beckingham, pls.let me start this comment of mine by admiting that I once was also one of these “..people, who associated Goa…”with a tropical paradise.”Plus this former Portuguise “Touch”. But the reality speaks of course another language.You have described this life in Goa so well, that it is hard to answer in a good way.That’s the reason why I want to ask you:
    What are exactly the assignments of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar? So far, I’ve never heard of this (job-)title.It would be really nice from you, if you should find a suitable time and answer my question.You’ve also wrote about “UK-Comapnies”….and their “useful business prospects.” To me-it would be very interesting to know, whether these companies are “only” British “Big Players” or/and also new start -up, smaller companies-using -for e.g.- already newest and modern “smart technology”.Within this context it is just great to read about the activities of this “British Business Groups .”-BBG.Well, it looks to me that they are all, more or less,in the same kind of branch.(Infrastructure,roads, waste management or traffic/transport).
    I do guess that these are exactly the kind of companies, which Goa needed so urgently. Last but not least I don ‘t want to forget to write, that I do full agree to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in re. of his intentions,to fight in Goa against crimes on a “Hardliner”-way.Or in your words: On a rigorous way.
    BW, Ingo-Steven Wais, Stuttgart/Cardiff

    1. Thank you for your comment. Goa is a state of scenic beauty with appropriate economic and infrastructure development hence the potential to make winning contacts.

  3. I would advise Brits not to buy in Goa, the Goan and Indian government changed the rules to suit themselves and have left many Brits without any rights at all, the change in the visa rules means that Brits cannot have long stay visas now.
    And please be warned the British consultant does very little to help Brits out there

  4. Sir,
    You must definitely forge ahead in this regard because British companies have a standard of their own.

    It would add to the GDP of Goa and also lead to a huge manufacturing of British goods which I fancy a lot. Further, it would deepen UK – India ties also.

  5. Visit Goa for a week and you cannot deny that the Portuguese were better in colonizing the place. Unlike the British their presence is liked by the people. This is now creating unlimited opportunities of Business and leisure. Although the the impression of Britain is deep rooted in the minds of Indian population but they are not being harnessed. The method adopted by them has put them at par with other visitors from far east and the competition is not very easy.

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About Peter Beckingham

Peter was the Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands from 2013 to 2016. Before this, he was British Deputy High Commissioner to India, based in Mumbai, the commercial capital,…

Peter was the Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands from
2013 to 2016. Before this, he was British Deputy High Commissioner to India, based in Mumbai, the commercial capital, where he had a responsibility for developing UK-India trade and investment. His earlier appointments have
included Consul-General and Director-General of Trade and Investment in
Sydney, and British Ambassador to the Philippines, where he initiated
the UK Government’s involvement in a peace process with the Philippine
Government and Muslim rebel groups.
Peter is married to Jill, a teacher of special needs, and they have
two grown up children. His outside interests include cricket, golf and