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India Ramps Up Its Promotion as a Wedding Destination

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India is actively promoting itself as the next big wedding destination. At the first “Wed in India” Expo ongoing in Jaipur till Wednesday, tourism ministry official Manisha Saxena said that the rapid infrastructure development across India is aiding destination weddings. 

PM Modi’s Call: The call for Wed In India was first made by Indian Prime Minister Modi in November last year. According to Modi “wed in India” would help boost the economy if Indians hosted their weddings within their country. Skift Research’s survey reveals that Indian destination weddings have created a thriving market, estimated at $1.9 billion (INR 159.6 billion) in outbound travel spending.

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“Indians, both in the country and the diaspora globally, are getting more prosperous. Better to spend more in our own country to benefit our own people and economy. That’s why ‘Wed in India’ is a great initiative,” said SK Pathak, FICCI secretary general at the first-ever Wed in India expo.

The expo was hosted not just to encourage Indians to host their weddings within the country but to make India the “world’s wedding destination.”

Who are participating: Policymakers, stakeholders from the tourism and hospitality industry and tour operators from over 50 countries are participating in the “Wed in India” expo.

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Wedding venue: Saxena spoke about states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Haryana, Kerala, and Goa which are already popular destinations for Wed-in-India. She also spoke about the Northeast emerging as a preferred destination.

Why Rajasthan: Rajasthan, where the expo is currently ongoing, has long been a preferred destination for celebrity weddings due to its luxurious and opulent settings. The state’s magnificent palaces forts and havelis converted into luxury heritage hotels provide a regal backdrop for extravagant celebrations.

Hotel infrastructure: Fairmont Jaipur and Raffles Udaipur in Rajasthan are known to be among the most prominent luxury wedding venues in India. Accor is now also bringing a Raffles to Jaipur and a Fairmont to Udaipur. Hilton has also selected Jaipur as the city for the launch of its Waldorf Astoria brand in India due to the city’s ability to attract high-end weddings.

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Speakers also spoke about the readiness of India’s wedding ecosystem, the dynamics of wedding tourism and its impact on India’s larger tourism industry.

India, a 365-day destination: Underlining that India is 365-day destination, Saxena said, “India is not just a six-month destination from October to March. It is actually a 365-day destination. We have just launched an initiative called ‘Coolcation’ to dispel the myth that summers are hot in India. There are some cool pockets in India too.”

The business of Indian weddings: Skift earlier reported that in the November-December wedding season of 2023, 3.5 million couples got married in India, spending a cumulative amount of $57 billion. There is an emerging trend of booking luxury hotels and resorts to host extravagant weddings. 

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Indian wedding celebrations.

TBO Tek IPO to Open This Week

Travel distribution company TBO Tek is set to go public this week, with its IPO scheduled for May 8. The company aims to raise INR 15.5 billion ($180 million), including a fresh issue of INR 4 billion ($48 million). 

TBO, which serves as a one-stop hub for travel agents to book various travel services including flights and hotels, has not had to reveal a lot about its business so far. Its IPO prospectus, however, reveals that its platform allows agents to access over 750 airlines and more than a million hotels globally. 

The prospectus also reveals that B2B rates and commissions are the two main sources of revenue for the IPO-bound company. The company has several business verticals, including an online learning platform for travel agents, a booker rewards program, and a mobile-first corporate travel platform.

Air India to Start Direct Delhi-Zurich Flights in June

Air India is set to commence direct flights between Delhi and Zurich starting June 16. The carrier will operate on the route four times a week. This marks Air India’s entry into Switzerland, and with this, the airline now flies to seven destinations in mainland Europe. 

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Air India CEO Campbell Wilson said, “With over 250 Swiss companies operating in India, hundreds of Indian companies in Switzerland,  and a growing Indian diaspora of nearly 18,000, these flights will cater to a strong demand for business  and leisure travel in both directions. Switzerland, a consistently top-ranking European destination for Indian tourists, will now be even more accessible.”

The airline is attempting an overhaul as it prepares for its merger with sister carrier Vistara. Wilson aims to restore Air India into a “top-tier and world-class airline”. As part of this, it is planning international expansion. The airline will operate direct flights from Delhi to Ho Chi Minh City from June, and is planning to add more destinations to its network. 

Sarovar Hotels Opens V Sarovar Portico in Jaipur

Sarovar Hotels has announced the opening of V Sarovar Portico Jaipur in Rajasthan. The 106-key property is Sarovar’s sixth property in the city. 

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For Sarovar, Bangalore, Lucknow, and Jaipur are focus areas in India after emerging as hubs in the past few years, managing director Ajay Bakaya told Skift. 

The hotel chain has more than 120 operational hotels across 75 destinations worldwide, and is expecting to have 125 operational properties in India by the end of 2024. It also has 70 to 80 hotels in its pipeline, and by the end of 2025, it is looking at 150 operational hotels in its India portfolio. 

IndiGo Doubles Frequency of Delhi-Phuket Direct Flights

Budget carrier IndiGo has doubled its frequency of direct flights between Delhi and Thailand’s Phuket. Starting June 1, the airline will operate 14 weekly flights between the two cities instead of the current seven flights a week. 

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These are in addition to the seven weekly flights that the airline operates between Delhi and Bangkok, said IndiGo global sales head Vinay Malhotra. 

IndiGo’s move has come on the heels of Air India’s decision to operate additional direct flights between Delhi and Phuket starting June 1. Full service airline Air India already flies daily direct flights between the two cities, and earlier this month, announced its plans to add a second direct flight six days a week. 

India is one of the most important source markets for Thailand, and in 2023, more than 1.6 million Indian travelers visited Thailand. 

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EaseMyTrip Unveils Explore Bharat Initiative

Online travel company EaseMyTrip has unveiled the EXPLORE Bharat initiative at the Arabian Travel Market 2024. With this initiative, the online agency aims to promote the culture, heritage, festivals, and offbeat destinations of India among travelers from the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East region. 

The initiative is EaseMyTrip’s effort towards promoting India as a top travel destination and showcasing its diverse offerings to a global audience, said co-founder Rikant Pittie. “The Arabian travel industry is witnessing remarkable growth, driven by factors such as technological advancements, evolving consumer preferences, and a renewed focus on sustainable travel.”

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