The big fat Indian wedding has found a new overseas destination – this island bounded by the emerald green and blue seas and lush green mountains and Thailand capital Bangkok.
More and more Indians are choosing Phuket as also Bangkok for wedding functions for the last three years, say Thai tourism board officials and owners of restaurants and event management companies owned by Indians of Thai origin.
Sid Sehgal, the Thai-Indian owner of the restaurant Indus in a plush locality of Bangkok, said he had organised 40 Indian weddings in Thailand last year 28 such functions have already been held this year.
He said Thai tour operators and event management companies take up the entire responsibility of organising the weddings ? right from transfer to and from airport in Phuket or Bangkok, holding the wedding ceremonies, reception, shopping and local transport.
Sehgal said many members of Marwari community from Kolkata had chosen Bangkok as the venue for weddings and people from other parts of India are also increasingly opting Thailand for the occasion.
While Bangkok has been hosting Indian wedding functions for the last few years, Phuket, the island resort built on abandoned tin mines in the southern part of Thailand, and Pattaya are also increasingly emerging as a new site for such events, say tour operators and Thailand tourism board officials.
This has given rise to what is being touted in Thailand as “marriage tourism” which also affords an opportunity for a honeymoon for the newly-wed couple on the exotic beaches in and around Phuket without much additional charges.
The travel to and from Thailand for weddings and the honeymoon can be had as part of a package which works out cheaper for people wanting to avail the opportunity, say tourism board officials and tour operators.
The holding of Indian weddings in Thailand has helped give a boost to burgeoning number of tourists from India to this country whose six per cent of GDP is contributed by the tourism sector.
Last year, the number of Indian tourists to Thailand was estimated at 530,000 ? the highest so far – and this year the figure has already crossed the four lakh mark, according to Sansern Ngaorungsi, Deputy Governor for International Marketing (Asia and South Pacific) of Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Yet, India ranks behind China, Europe and the US in terms of foreign tourist arrivals in this country despite enjoying proximity.
Tourism in Thailand had taken a hit during the political turmoil in April-May this year during a bloody crackdown by the military on anti-government protesters demanding end to “dictatorship” and holding of fresh parliamentary elections.
However, things have begun looking up once again for Thai tourism with the political situation showing signs of stabilising and foreign governments easing their travel warnings about this country.
India, China and Indonesia are among the countries on which Thailand is depending to give a leg-up to its tourism once again as these countries are “promising short-haul markets” which have large populations of potential visitors just a few hours away from Thailand.
With economies of many countries rebounding after the 2009 global financial crisis, tourism to Thailand rose by nearly 14 per cent and tourist arrival in the first seven months of 2010 stood at 8.7 million compared to 7.7 million in 2009.
Meanwhile, to help boost tourism from India to Thailand, the Travel Agents Association of India has suggested introduction of a direct between New Delhi and Phuket saying this could help push up the number of Indian travellers to that country to one million mark.
The excellent tourist infrastructure, including silky roads and accommodations ranging from luxury beachside resorts and affordable non-star hotels, in Phuket has drawn an increasing number of Indian tourists to this island.
The Association had last week held its annual conference in Phuket, opting for the place after having decided on another South East Asian country, following a request from the Thailand government.
Another major tourist attraction in Phuket is its vibrant night life at Patton locality with night clubs, discotheques, quality hard drinks and safe food sold by road side vendors and beachside restaurants.
In a bid to attract high-spending tourists from India, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is going to organise a golf tournament next month inviting leading players from across the world, including some from India, and has roped in a Mumbai-based firm to sell golf merchandize during the competition.
Thailand, on its part, has proposed introduction of air connectivity between Guwahati and Bangkok in order to draw more Thai tourists to India from the 50,000 figure recorded in 2009.
source – http://wonderwoman.intoday.in