A survey released by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai Office (TAT Mumbai), BRANDit and Wedding Sutra reveals drastic changes in travellers’ bucket list preferences since the pandemic began. The TAT Mumbai team with BRANDit and WeddingSutra surveyed over 300 agents and about 50 wedding planners across India’s top eight metros, mini-metros like Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Kolkatta, Lucknow, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Murshidabad, Pune, Surat, Baroda, etc. The idea behind the survey was to identify emerging consumer behaviour, travel agent’s sentiments and wedding trends that will drive travel preferences in the Covid era.
Compared to before, experiential travel has gained importance, while health and safety continue to be a traveller’s key priority. Post-Covid, travellers are looking for more control over their journeys and customized itineraries. Hence there has been an increase in demand for higher category hotels, premium homestays and independent villas that promise the comfort of a vacation while meeting all their requirements. Travellers are now increasingly conscious of enabling sustainable travel and aim to make environment-friendly choices when they travel. Indians are now looking at meaningful experiences and fostering meaningful connections, prioritizing it over mass tourism formats focused on cities.
The survey also shows that once the borders open, an average length of stay for Indian travellers would be less than 7 days. Food and beverage benefits (F&B) was voted as the top accommodation must-have, followed by experiences and early check-in or late check-out. While the wedding planners feel that Thailand still remains one of the most important destinations for to-be-weds. Families would like the celebration to spread over 3 days – 2 nights or 4 days – 3 nights. The top destination within Thailand for weddings in near future would be Phuket, Krabi, Hua Hin, Rayong and Kho Samui.
Ms. Cholada Siddhivarn, Director Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai office, says, “We have seen a robust forward pipeline of queries from India since the time Thailand has opened borders to low-risk countries via the Phuket Sand-box programme. This exercise further assists us in understanding the current sentiments and expectations from Thailand as a destination. The one thing that the pandemic has taught people is to slow down and appreciate an unhurried life, which is why there will be a rise of slow, immersive travel options.”
“Happy to learn that Thailand continues to be a favourite wedding destination for Indians. Many Hotels & Resorts as well as wedding service providers are looking forward to welcoming back Indians and make every couples once in a life time celebration, a truly memorable one. Since the last 1-2 years, some new Hotels & Resorts have launched and they would be an additional venue option for wedding celebration. In addition, Thailand is also a great choice for special occasions and celebrations such as family re-union, bachelor & bachelorette parties, anniversary & birthday parties and an ideal destination for honeymooners”, opines Mr. Vachirachai Sirisumpan, Director Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi Office
“Thailand recognized the immense potential of hosting Indian weddings very early and it quickly became one of the most preferred destinations for Indian weddings. Several countries attempted to emulate the Thailand model. The ‘Land of smiles’ has several advantages – their warmth and hospitality, and insatiable drive of the private sector (hotels) to make dedicated efforts to woo High Net Worth Indians and continuously engage with wedding planners. Thailand remained the top spot for NRIs too with many NRI families from Hong Kong, Europe, Middle East, US and other parts of South Asia celebrating in Hua Hin, Phuket, Krabi, Pattaya, Rayong and Bangkok. With their variety of venues and immense experience, Thailand can surely make a comeback with weddings in safer times. What may also work well is the positioning of their unique venues e.g., boutique hotels with 50 to 100 rooms as an ideal destination for Indian intimate weddings. And in due course, when the prevailing conditions make cross- border travel easier, I am sure the big Indian weddings will be back there,” mentions Parthip Thyagarajan, CEO WeddingSutra.com
Though it’s too early to predict trends for international travel—the resumption of which will be subject to various conditions like air bubbles, vaccination efforts by India and efforts made to resume international travel from both the destinations.