‘Wed In India’ – A New Growth Propeller

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has again urged couples to ‘wed in India’ so that the wealth remains within the country. The PM had said at the Uttarakhand Global Investors Summit in December that it had become fashionable among millionaire and billionaire business families to go abroad for destination weddings. He had urged industrialists to organise at least one wedding in the family in Uttarakhand each year, saying it would help push the hill state as a wedding destination. The Prime Minister introduced the concept of “Wed in India” during his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ broadcast on November 26.
After Make in India, Travel in India, the PM feels that ‘marry in India’ will help boost the economy. Unofficial estimates suggest that around 5,000 destination weddings are held abroad every year, with the total spending ranging from Rs 75,000 crore to Rs 1 lakh crore.

India’s big budget weddings have become exorbitant theme-based affairs at stunning locales. Weddings are extended festivities over a weekend or stretching to a week, with Bollywood-style functions, feasting and revelry and a calendar of events in the run-up to the big day.

Big Indian wedding market

According to real estate agency Knight Frank’s ‘The Wealth Report 2023’, the high net-worth-individual (HNI) population, with $1 million in assets and more, will more than double from 7.9 lakh people (2022) to 16.5 lakh. The population will grow 107 per cent by 2027-28, the report suggests. This bodes well not only for destination weddings but also related markets like jewellery, costumes, travel, hotels, retail and other luxury expenditures.

In the last wedding season, around Rs 4.25 lakh crore, involved in six lakh weddings, circulated in the market through wedding purchases, according to the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). That is a 26 per cent jump from the previous year. The trend is expected to continue in the ongoing wedding season, from now to July.

After the PM’s advice, the Union Tourism Ministry is set to launch its new campaign, “India says I do”, on a large scale, not only to encourage affluent families to host weddings within the country but also to convince foreign couples to pick India for their special day. The ministry has started discussions with key stakeholders in the wedding industry, including hotel operators, to outline the details of the campaign.

BC Bhartia, president of CAIT, feels that for a section, destination weddings in foreign countries are a matter of pride, so big business and revenue from India is transferred to those countries. “In India there are many places where destination weddings can be held. If the rich start destination weddings in Indian states, others will follow them, keeping the wedding business within the country,” says Mr Bhartia.

Domestic wedding destination

Marriages are also a key revenue generator for the hospitality industry. Since the blockbuster ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge‘ caught the nation’s imagination in the 1990s, the wedding business and wedding-related goods and services have been a significant economic contributor.

Hotels in the country offer wedding packages worth several crores. A number of companies or groups provide general to specialised services and arrangements. Popular “I do” destinations within the country include Rajasthan, particularly Udaipur, Jodhpur, Goa, and Kerala, to name a few.

“There are more than 2,000 such places in and around about 100 major cities in different states of India, where destination weddings can be held with great fanfare. All these places are fully capable of organising destination weddings ranging from medium budget to any big budget,” says Mr Bhartia.

States like Rajasthan, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Goa, realising the potential, have come up with state-specific wedding tourism policies and incentives. Special packages are on offer, tailored for couples and their families.

The Goa government has showcased the beach destination as the best for weddings, says Arindam Banerjee, general manager, Hotel Calangute Towers -AM Hotel Kollection. “Goa is one of the most sought-after destinations for hosting weddings. Most of the resorts and hotels along the coastline cater to destination weddings for domestic as well as international clients in Goa, which contribute around 25-30 per cent of their total revenues,” says Mr Banerjee.

A diverse and bountiful country like ours needs more ways than one to harness its human and natural resources. The traditional ways of growing through agriculture, industrialisation and services will take years to help India become a $5 trillion economy. New, innovative, out-of-box initiatives will help exploit our full potential, develop jobs and amplify the multiplier effect by circulating the money spent domestically within our country. ‘Wed in India’ has the talent, infrastructure and ecosystem ready. It just needs internal stakeholders to align better to build India as a hub of destination weddings.

(Bharti Mishra Nath is a senior journalist)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author.

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