Indian wedding biz worth $50bn

The 8th edition of Travel Wedding Show in Udaipur discussed various topics related to the booming Indian wedding industry, including hotel pricing and visa processing.

Janice Alyosius

The eighth edition of Travel Wedding Show in Udaipur was a resounding success, with more than 2,000 productive meetings held during the show. Renowned wedding planners, hotels, airlines, and international tourism boards participated during the two-day event. A captivating panel discussion, moderated by Rajeev Jain, Founder and Managing Director, Rashi Entertainment, was the highlight at the event. Eminent panellists, including Elisa Maria Robles Fraga, Director (India), Spain Tourism Board, Kamilia Hani Abdul Halim, Deputy Director, Tourism Malaysia, and Aishvarya Guhagarkar, Director, M!CE, Switzerland Convention Bureau, shared their valuable insights at the panel discussion.

Highlighting the remarkable growth of India’s wedding industry, Jain said, “India is on its way to become the world’s fifth-largest economy and how the business has skyrocketed post-COVID. The Indian wedding sector alone accounts for $50 billion (approximately `5,00,000 crore). From small intimate weddings to extravagant celebrations costing `100 crore, the industry offers a wide range of options.”

India leading in wedding biz
Jain emphasized that India boasts the largest growth rate in wedding business globally. “With a remarkable surge of 30 per cent following the challenges posed by COVID, India has outperformed other nations in the industry. In contrast, countries like the United States have experienced a decline of two per cent,” he said.

Challenges with hotel pricing
However, Jain expressed concern over pricing issue with Indian hotels. He revealed that hotels in India tend to charge exorbitantly for wedding events, which is becoming a hindrance for wedding agencies. “Hotels should consider reasonable pricing to support international partners and cater to the growing Indian wedding market,” he suggested.

Spain as wedding destination
Elisa Maria Robles Fraga, highlighting Spain’s potential as a prime wedding destination, shared a few crucial aspects. The country has pleasant Mediterranean climate, rich cultural heritage with picturesque venues like castles and monasteries, she said.

Simplifying visa procedures
Responding to Jain’s concerns over visa processing delays for Indian weddings in Europe, Fraga said, “The visa application process has improved significantly. The Spanish consulate in Mumbai has streamlined procedures for big groups, including weddings with a quick turnaround time for visas.”

Malaysia popular with Indians
Kamilia Hani Abdul Halim revealed Malaysia is well-acquainted with the presence of Indians, and Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Langkawi have become prominent attractions not only for Indian tourists, but also for visitors from various other nations. “These destinations hold immense popularity among Indian tourists. Malaysia boasts a significant Indian population, making it a familiar and welcoming place for Indians. As a multicultural country, Malaysia embraces diverse customs and traditions, including those of the local Indian community. This cultural richness is one of the reasons why these locations are highly favoured by Indian travellers. Moreover, Malaysia offers a wide array of culinary delights, allowing individuals to easily find their preferred Indian cuisine,” she said.

Wedding seasons in Malaysia
Halim pointed out that Malaysia’s temperate climate allows weddings throughout the year except the monsoon season on the East Coast, which lasts from September to February. She advised to avoid this period and recommended March to August as the most suitable months for destination weddings.

Streamlined visa process
Halim emphasized that Malaysia’s government has improved the visa facilitation, offering assistance for groups with specific requirements, including special treatment and direct flights to destinations with no direct access to Malaysia.

Customized packages
Aishvarya Guhagarkar emphasized on Switzerland’s offerings. “Switzerland offers a diverse range of wedding packages to cater to the specific needs and desires of Indian couples. These packages often include traditional Indian ceremonies, such as Mehndi and Sangeet, combined with Swiss-inspired elements to create a unique fusion of cultures,” she said.

Catering to Indian palates
Guhagarkar said that Switzerland takes pride in catering to diverse culinary preferences, and Indian cuisine is no exception. “Indian food is absolutely no issue. You can get a whole lot of variety. We have one of the biggest suppliers of Indian ingredients in Switzerland, and he has outlets in at least four different parts of Switzerland. So, ingredients are not an issue, Indian chefs are not an issue. They are all based in Switzerland in different regions. Couples and their guests can indulge in the flavours of home while enjoying the mesmerizing landscapes of Switzerland,” she assured.

Switzerland’s visa services
Guhagarkar emphasized on Switzerland’s efficient visa services and its role in making Switzerland a dream destination for extravagant weddings. “Switzerland is the only country that has 13 VFS centres all across. We have done the maximum number of visas this year until the month of June. And we have done close to 30 per cent more visas than were issued compared to 2019. It’s because we were well prepared,” she said.

She elaborated on the close cooperation with the Switzerland embassy. “We tell them the forecast well in advance, as to which M!CE groups are going, which tour operators are including Switzerland in their programs.”

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