How he’s going Thailand is going the extra mile.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
My first Indian wedding was unforgettable; a riot of colour, sound, food, dancing and sheer joy that I hadn’t experienced before, for days in a row. What I didn’t realise then, was that it was a mere taste of the sheer scale of an Indian wedding; nor did it reveal the entire ecosystem behind one – it takes a village to bring a wedding to fruition, from the planners, to the decorators, caterers, couturiers, the staff on location, and of course, the families. All of this translates into significant investment in the location of the wedding, a fact that Thailand, as one of the world’s most attractive wedding destinations, is becoming increasingly aware.
Not only are visitors who come to Thailand for their weddings exposed to the wonders of the Kingdom, including its world-class hospitality and globally-renowned cuisine; but interest in the spectacle and experience of Indian weddings has also risen among local Thais, prompting growing interest in Indian culture and traditions. In a nutshell, Indian weddings are an incredible tool to promote the cultures of Thailand and India to each other, and grow their special relationship.
Masala met with the Deputy Governor for International Marketing – Asia and the South Pacific of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, to hear his take on the special role that Indian weddings have and continue to take in fostering Thai and Indian relations, and the TAT’s initiatives to continue to promote this multi-billion-dollar industry.
What do you think are Thailand’s strengths and unique selling points (USPs) that best attract Indian weddings from abroad?
Thailand has several strengths and USPs that make it an attractive destination for Indian weddings from abroad. Here are some of the key factors:
Exotic Locations: Thailand offers a diverse range of stunning and exotic locations perfect for hosting destination weddings. The country provides a picturesque backdrop for a memorable wedding celebration, from pristine beaches and tropical islands to lush green forests and luxurious resorts.
Hospitality and Service: The Thai people are known for their warm hospitality and friendly nature. The country has a well-developed tourism industry catering to international visitors’ needs. Thai hospitality ensures that couples and their guests feel welcomed and cared for throughout their stay.
Affordability: Compared to other popular wedding destinations, Thailand offers a relatively-affordable range of options for couples seeking a destination wedding.
Excellent Infrastructure: Thailand has a well-developed infrastructure that supports hosting large-scale events. The country’s international airports, transportation systems, and venues are equipped to handle the logistical requirements of Indian weddings, including accommodation, transportation, andguest management.
Cultural Experiences: Thailand’s rich cultural heritage and traditions provide an opportunity for couples to incorporate unique and vibrant elements into their wedding ceremonies. From traditional Thai rituals and performances to incorporating Thai cuisine and decor, couples can blend Indian and Thai cultural experiences for their guests.
Variety of Wedding Services: Thailand has a wide range of professional wedding planners, decorators, caterers, photographers, and other wedding service providers who are experienced in hosting international weddings. These experts can assist couples in creating personalised and memorable wedding experiences.
Accessibility: Thailand enjoys good connectivity with major Indian cities through direct flights, thus making it easily accessible for Indian wedding guests travelling from abroad. The availability of the direct flights and travel options simplifies the logistics for guests attending the wedding.
Overall, Thailand’s strengths lie in its scenic locations, warm hospitality, affordability, infrastructure, cultural experiences, and the availability of various wedding services. These factors contribute to its appeal as a destination for Indian weddings from abroad.
What is Thailand and TAT doing to remain competitive in this business?
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is actively implementing various strategies to remain competitive in the destination wedding business. Here are some initiatives we are undertaking:
Promoting Destination Weddings: TAT has actively promoted Thailand as a premier wedding destination through targeted marketing campaigns. They highlight Thailand’s unique selling points, such as its exotic locations, hospitality, affordability, and cultural experiences to attract couples worldwide.
Collaborating with Wedding Planners and Service Providers: TAT works closely with wedding planners, event organisers, and service providers to enhance the quality and range of the wedding services in Thailand. By implementing these strategies, TAT aims to position the country as a leading location for destination weddings by offering a unique and unforgettable experience for couples and their guests.
What obstacles or issues do you foresee facing this industry in the immediate future?
Here are some potential obstacles or issues that the Indian wedding industry in Thailand may face in the immediate future:
Economic fluctuations and changes in exchange rates can influence the cost of destination weddings. Unpredictable economic conditions can affect couples’ budgets, their ability to spend on elaborate wedding arrangements, and the overall demand for destination weddings.
Increasing awareness and emphasis on sustainable practices and environmental consciousness may impact the Indian wedding industry in Thailand. Couples and their families might prioritise eco-friendly venues, décor, and practices, which could require vendors and service providers to adapt and offer sustainable options.
Competition and Market Saturation: The Indian wedding industry in Thailand has witnessed significant growth in recent years, thus resulting in increased competition among venues, planners, and service providers. Market saturation could lead to challenges in differentiating offerings and maintaining profit margins.
Political or social instability in Thailand could impact the Indian wedding industry. Civil unrest, changes in government policies, or any form of instability could disrupt travel, affect venue operations, or create an atmosphere of uncertainty.
It is important to note that the Indian wedding industry is resilient and adaptable, and many of these challenges could be mitigated through effective planning, communication, and collaboration among wedding planners, vendors, and couples.
In the past year, how much business did Indian weddings generate, both in terms of revenue and number of events?
Amazing Thailand is very well known as a ‘dream wedding destination’ and has always been a very popular destination for a grand Indian wedding and other celebrations, such as milestone birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, and bachelor and bachelorette parties. Over 200 Indian couples tie the knot in Thailand every year, with average wedding parties ranging from 200 to 500 guests per event, covering three to six days, with budgets ranging from THB 10 million to THB 50 million per event. And, this is a figure we expect to continue to grow in the coming years from India.
How is TAT providing support for the various stakeholders of the Indian wedding industry in terms of incentives and regulations?
TAT’s offices in Mumbai and New Delhi continue to work hand in hand with partners and tour operators to help promote Thailand among various groups of Indian travellers with weddings and honeymooners making up a large part of it. The unrelenting efforts of the Thai Indian Wedding Association (TIWA) only strengthens Thailand’s position as the preferred country for destination weddings among Indians, not only from India and the neighbouring countries around Thailand, but extending as far as Europe, South Africa, and Canada.
This year, the TAT Mumbai and New Delhi Offices organised the “Wedding Planner FAM Trip and Symposium 2023” on 22 June at Sofitel Phokeetra Krabi Hotel, Thailand. More than 40 senior executives representing India’s leading wedding planners and event organisers were invited as part of a comprehensive survey of the country’s top destinations, venues, and services.
The Symposium helped enhance the educational knowledge base of many Thai hotels, tour operators, and suppliers of products and services; all of whom are keen to ensure the highest quality of delivery standards for this very demanding, niche market.
What message would you like to convey to the Indian fraternity in Thailand and around the world?
Celebrate the deep bond between Thailand and India, which is united by a shared history and cultural connections. Whether you are in Thailand or any corner of the globe, remember that you are part of a vibrant community that bridges two incredible nations. Cherish the warmth of Thai hospitality and the richness of Indian traditions as you navigate your journey. Let the fusion of Thai and Indian cultures inspire you to embrace diversity, promote intercultural understanding, and build lasting friendships. Together, we can strengthen the ties that have linked our nations for centuries and create a future filled with collaboration, respect, and shared prosperity.