The Travel Wedding Show held in Udaipur covered a range of topics creating a platform for collaboration. The Indian wedding market size has grown to around US$50 billion.
The eighth edition of Travel Wedding Show in Udaipur was a resounding success, boasting more than 2,000 productive meetings. The two-day event welcomed wedding planners, hotels, airlines, and global tourism boards, creating an engaging platform for collaboration.
The panel discussion was moderated by Rajeev Jain, Founder and MD, Rashi Entertainment. The panellists included 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. Their valuable insights added depth to the discussion.
Highlighting the growth of Indian wedding industry, Jain said, “The wedding sector accounts for US$50 billion (` 5,00,000 crores) post-COVID. From small intimate weddings to extravagant celebrations costing ` 100 crores, the industry offers a range of options.”
He emphasized that India boasts the largest growth rate in the wedding business. “With a growth of 30 per cent following the COVID challenges, India has outperformed other nations. The USA has experienced a decline of 2 per cent, while China and the UK have witnessed growth rates of 10 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively,” he said.
Hotel pricing challenges
Expressed concern about issues of pricing with Indian hotels, he revealed, “Hotels in India tend to charge exorbitant rates for wedding events, which is becoming an obstacle for wedding agencies. The hotels should consider reasonable pricing to support global partners and cater to the growing Indian wedding market.” Incentivization should be based on total billing, fair pricing policies must be adopted, the hotels must stop overcharging their clients, he added.
Elisa Maria Robles Fraga highlighting Spain’s potential as a prime wedding destination, shared a few aspects that make Spain stand out, such as the pleasant Mediterranean climate, rich cultural heritage, glorious castles and monasteries, and diverse natural landscapes. Responding to Jain’s concerns about 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.”
Popular tourism destination
Kamilia Hani Abdul Halim revealed Malaysia is well acquainted with Indian travellers. Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Langkawi have become prominent attractions not only for Indian tourists but also for travellers from other nations. As a multicultural country, Malaysia embraces diverse customs and traditions, including those of the local Indian communities. This cultural richness is one of the reasons why these locations are favoured by Indian tourists. Also, Malaysia offers a wide array of culinary delights, allowing individuals to easily find their preferred Indian cuisine,” shared Halim.
“Many hotels, particularly five-star ones, have hosted Indian weddings in the past. These hotels have the necessary infrastructure to accommodate Indian weddings, handling a guest count of around 300-400 people with ease. As the competition intensifies, these properties strive to provide exceptional wedding experiences,” Halim asserted.
Malaysia’s temperate climate allows weddings throughout the year, except for the monsoon season on the East Coast, which lasts from September to February. Advising that this period should be avoided, she recommended March to August as the most suitable months for destination weddings in Malaysia.
To support Indian wedding planners, Halim averred, the Malaysia government has improved visa facilitation, offering assistance for groups with specific requirements, including special treatment and direct flights to destinations with no direct access to Malaysia.
Switzerland offers many opportunities to enhance the wedding experience with tailored activities and excursions, said Aishvarya Guhagarkar. “Switzerland offers a 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,” highlighted Guhagarkar.
Emphasizing Switzerland’s efficient visa services and its role in making Switzerland a dream destination for extravagant weddings, Guhagarkar said, “Switzerland is the lone country having 13 VFS centers. We have done the maximum number of visas this year until June. We have issued close to 30 per cent more visas than those issued in 2019,” she said.
Elaborating on the cooperation with the Switzerland Embassy, she said, “We work closely with the embassy. We tell them well in advance as to which M!CE groups are going. The tour operators are including Switzerland in their programmes, and also inform them about the weddings that are takimng place in Switzerland.”
Guhagarkar further said, “If we are informed around 3-4 months in advance, we can intimate the Swiss embassy, and they will then prepare the roadmap for these weddings in Switzerland. This proactive approach by the Swiss authorities ensures a smooth and efficient visa application process for the couples and the wedding guests alike.”
Catering to Indian palate
Switzerland takes pride in catering to culinary preferences, and Indian cuisine is no exception. He shared, “Availability of Indian food is no
issue for us. We have one of the biggest suppliers of ingredients, 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 here in different regions. Couples and their guests can indulge in the flavours of home, while enjoying Switzerland.”