Lekha Shankar | Indian weddings rise in Thailand, thanks to no visa policy

Beach hotels a hotspot as wedding parties become important segment' of tourism industry

With Thailand extending the no visa privilege to Indian tourists from April 11 to November 11, a segment that has grown rapidly is the Indian wedding market.

“Indian wedding parties are a very important segment for Thailand's tourism industry, especially in terms of revenue generation,” said Siriges-a-nong Trirattanasongpol, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand office in New Delhi.

According to her, Indian wedding groups varied from a minimum of 150 to as many as 300, and their budget was “huge”. This was because they held many events, which involved many industries — flowers, decorations, catering and entertainment — all of which increased the revenue earnings for Thailand, the host country.

Ms Trirattanasongpol said that the Indian wedding groups opted for beach hotels in Thailand, with notable venues including JW Marriott in Khao Lak, Anantara Riverside in Bangkok, and Sheraton, Avani and Shangrila hotels in Huahin.

Ram Sachdev, chairman of Masala, and president of the Thai-Indian Wedding Association, supports this observation. He and his team have been instrumental in promoting Indian weddings in Thailand. According to Mr Sachdev, Thailand receives over 30 serious requests each week from Indian wedding groups globally. He predicts 2024 to be an exceptional year for Indian weddings in Thailand with 300-350 functions.

Mr Sachdev also noted that Hua Hin is a favoured destination due to its proximity to Bangkok. It gave an opportunity to the Indian wedding parties to shop in Bangkok.

To assist those planning weddings in Thailand, Masala organises the Masala Wedding Fair every year. It is now more than a decade old. This year, it will take place at the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park on June 22-23, and is expected to attract large crowds.

The TAT director in New Delhi informed us that the bulk of the Indian wedding parties came from the big cities of India, but many came from the second-tier cities as well.

More than 47 Indian travel agents are expected to attend the mega Thailand Travel Mart (TTM) this week which will be held at the JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort and Spa.

In an exclusive interview with this writer at his sumptuous resort, the Indian general manager of the hotel Abhimanyu Singh said he was looking forward to interacting with the many Indian travel agents at the TTM. He was proud that his hotel had conducted many weddings, of Indians not just from India but also from other countries like Singapore and the UK. He informed us that this was possible because of the hotel’s huge 51-acre “land print” where it was possible to have different spaces for the various events of an Indian wedding without disturbing other guests. They also had a large number of restaurants which could host the various rituals and feasts.

Mr Singh was also proud of the new JW Farm that they had launched recently at their hotel. It is the first full-scale farm in the entire Marriott chain outside the United States.

Even if not conducive for the events of an Indian wedding, Mr Singh felt that the lush 26-acre farm with its interactive environment would excite multiple age groups.

“These activities would also greatly appeal to the CSR activities of companies,” he said, referring to the big MICE market in India, an important tourism segment for his hotel, and also for Thailand.

Mr Singh, who has worked with the Marriott Group for two decades, starting with the branch at Juhu in 2004, said he was proud that they had as many as 140 properties in India, which was why they were a favoured hotel chain of Indian tourists.

The last word came from Somsong Sachaphimukh, vice-president of the Tourism Council of Thailand. Ms Sachaphimukh has been closely involved with the tourism policies of various Thai governments, especially with relation to the Indian market. She was the one who actively campaigned for the no visa policy for Indian tourists.

Ms Sachaphimukh stated that the no visa policy was a big boost for the Indian wedding market, as it involved large groups of people. She informed us that the increased number of flights between India and Thailand at 491 per week involving 10 airlines is further proof of this phenomenon.

Next Story