Wedding Tourism in India

Wedding Tourism in India

By: Prerana Agarwal Saxena, the founder of Theme Weavers Designs | Friday, 26 November 2021

At its very core, a destination wedding like any other wedding is all about the celebration of love. On the basis of industry reports, the wedding industry was valued at about 458 billion crore rupees in 2020. Valued second to the American wedding industry, the Indian wedding industry is projected to take over first place in the coming years. A major contributor to the growth of the Indian wedding industry is wedding tourism. Couples today want to contribute towards endeavors, help, and engage in causes adding a “Do good, Feel good” factor to the occasion, pertinent to the newer venues. Most of the couples engaging in wedding tourism in India are millennials who have made it big in the States or in any European nation. 

The bottom line of various surveys conducted is that they have observed growth by 400% in the wedding industry over the past ten years. Due to globalization, and the ease of travel, many millennial couples are opting for destination weddings, where they can live out their fairytale dreams. Couples are attracted by the “exotic quotient,” of any given place before they choose it as their destination for their weddings. For instance, Europeans are known to travel to Hawaii for their wedding ceremonies. India, a developing country, is a major beneficiary of this trend. NRIs and foreigners have consistently been choosing India as a viable and luxurious wedding destination. The main point of attraction for many international folks seems to be the gorgeous destinations and the elaborate rituals associated with the wedding itself, so the event is more than just a simple marriage ceremony and exchange of rings. With an estimated revenue of 50,000 crore rupees and an average growth rate of 25%, India is on the fast track to being one of the top wedding destinations in the world. 

Due to the increased interest of global citizens in India as a top contender for their destination wedding, the demand for related services has also increased. The tourism industry, as a whole, has also gotten a major boost. So online tourism services like MakeMyTrip had global revenue of about 163 million dollars across the Indian subcontinent, in 2020. This website is trusted across age cohorts, as about 82% of people between the ages of 45 to 54 have used it at least once. Another key player and competitor to MakeMyTrip was Thomas Cook, and they made 980 million dollars in India by offering their services in 2020. Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces is a subsidiary of the Indian Hotels Company Limited and is one of the leading hotel chains in India that is a reputed local brand that is known for its excellent services and amazing aesthetics while it epitomizes luxury. Many of my clients at Theme Weavers Designs, often wish to hold their sangeet, mehndi, or even their wedding on the palatial wedding grounds of the Taj Resorts and Hotel chain found across India. Seeing their brand name and image, in the fiscal year of 2020, they were able to amount to 652 million US dollars. These figures have remained stable across various years as well. 

Now, it is crucial to keep in mind that these figures are weaving a tale of the pre-COVID days. Even without using facts and figures, it was easy to see, even for the common man, that the hospitality, tourism, and wedding industry had suffered a major setback. Due to the various lockdowns placed, it was impossible for people to travel domestically or internationally for any given reason. While this was a smart decision made, it cut down on the national and the domestic GDP as the tourism industry was at a standstill. Just a few months after the pandemic hit, when surveyed in July 2020, about a quarter of hoteliers expressed their concerns. Their concerns centered around the reopening of tourism, and if their business would be able to survive the lockdowns. Even tech giants like MakeMyTrip suffered major losses. Their business went down by 500 million US dollars. It was concluded that even industry stalwarts were having a hard time staying above water.  In 2020, after the imposition of the lockdown, hotel occupancy rates were at an all-time low of about 15%, but towards the end of the year, these rates were slowly climbing up due to the availability of the vaccine and the lifting of the travel restrictions. 

According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, a detailed report was released on 17 June 2021, that breaks down the contribution of various industries to the national income. One would think that the petroleum or oil industry would be the top contributors, but it is actually the service industry that is the largest sector in India. The Gross Value Added by the service sector at current prices is estimated at approximately  96.54 lakh crore INR in 2020-21. The services sector accounts for 53.89% of India's complete GVA of 179.15 lakh crore Indian rupees. With GVA of Rs. 46.44 lakh crore, the Industry sector contributes 25.92%. The wedding industry is also a part of the services industry. At this point it is really difficult to break down the true value of all the subsections in the service industry, it can be observed that the wedding industry is contributing a lot to the GVA due to the international wedding tourists and destination wedding tourists it attracts from various parts of the country. Industry insiders like myself, predict that the wedding industry will soon climb the ranks and take over the first position in the services sector that contributes to the GVA. The second most important industry in India is related to petroleum. This sector employs a lot of people, and the value of the invested stocks keeps increasing at a steady pace. But many economists, as well as environmentalists, predict that this petroleum boom is bound to die down sooner or later as it is a finite resource. As mentioned above, the wedding industry is soon going to take over the top spot of the service sector. Therefore, it is also highly likely that it can take over the petroleum industry in a very short time period. Government assistance in order to promote the Indian wedding industry and subsequent tourism attached to it is a possibility many wedding planners can assume. Other major oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia and Dubai have also started to shift focus from petroleum to tourism as well as marketing their country as a viable wedding destination. It is high time that we, as a developing country with rich heritage and gorgeous venues, should start expanding our horizons. 

It is true that the covid pandemic had an adverse effect on the wedding and the tourism industry. However, ever since the lockdowns have eased, and the travel bands have slowly lifted, and the amount of people getting vaccinated is steadily on the rise, many are starting to resume travel. The wedding and the tourism industry is starting off with full steam. Hotel room occupancy rates are on the rise. Booking sites have also been making a huge profit. From an industry insider’s point of view, I can see that many global citizens are willing to get married in India, thereby boosting our GDP and income. As the scope of importance and influence for the wedding industry increases, it is well on its way to becoming one of the nation’s top leading industries. With continued support from the government and a consistent client base who appreciate the magic of weddings, it will be a matter of years before we as an industry emerge on top. 

Wedding Tourism is more than just the wedding industry, though it plays a valuable role in boosting the tourism numbers in India. This is a socio-cultural phenomena that encompasses people’s economic and everyday lives. There are a few key elements of tourism, being known as the 5 A's: Access, Accommodation, Attractions, Activities, and Amenities. Tourism is not just an industry for the elite - it’s about the changes that you want to make and see in this part of the service industry. Through trials and triumphs, the tourism industry has the potential to grow exponentially in order to support the aspirations of many aiming to make a living on this industry’s basis.