Thailand flirts with Indian weddings

A senior tourism official said Thailand hopes to boost its tourism revenue by targeting high spending groups such as Indian weddings and honeymooners.

Thailand’s deputy governor, Siripakorn Chiausamut, told Reuters in an interview this week that Thailand, famous for its white sand beaches and nightlife, is hoping to benefit from “pent-up demand” from the multi-billion-dollar Indian wedding industry.

“Data from the past two years showed that many Indian couples got married, but could not find honeymoon sites…or delayed the marriage because they wanted to receive them abroad including in Thailand,” he said on Tuesday.

Foreign tourism revenue from January to August 2022 amounted to 186 billion baht (5 billion US dollars) from 4.2 million visitors, and 10 million tourists are expected for the whole year.

The Southeast Asian country relies heavily on tourism as an engine of economic growth. The number of foreign arrivals has fallen to just 428,000 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to a record high of nearly 40 million in 2019 when tourism made up 12% of GDP.

Now that it has dropped most of the pandemic-related restrictions, the government is targeting revenue of $11 billion in the second half of 2022.

Indian weddings in Thailand can last up to a week and include everything from event planning to catering, decor, and transportation.

He said about 60% of Indian weddings in Thailand were from residents in India, while the rest were from Indian families abroad, so Thai tourism representatives in Mumbai and New Delhi are working to expand their partnerships with wedding planners.

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Siripakron expects tourists to spend at least 48,000 baht per trip this year, and in 2023 hopes that number will rise to 50,000 baht per trip, aided by other high-spending sectors such as medical tourism and the selection of remote-working executives in Thailand.

He said the government will also extend some tourist visas from 15 to 30 days starting in October as traveler behavior changes to favor longer stays due to expensive flights and less availability.

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