The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) was organising the “Amazing Thailand Romance Trade Meet”, a B2B face-to-face sales event gathering professionals from all across the world who mostly create wedding/honeymoon travel packages. “This is the first time that we organise such a thematic meeting and I have to admit that it has been extremely encouraging in terms of response and attendance”, declared Juthaporn Rerngronasa, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.
Hosted in the brand new AVANI hotel along the Chao Praya River, some 72 travel professionals and wedding planners from 14 countries met 62 agencies and hotels in Bangkok before leaving for Krabi to meet another 50 companies.
Wedding is not a new niche product for Thailand but it is only recently that TAT decided to implement a dedicated marketing strategy to lure more honeymooners and newlyweds. “This is a prime opportunity to attract a high quality tourism, which is now our aim. International research over wedding/honeymoon destinations demonstrates that this niche market generates a total value of US$80 billion around the world”, explained Juthaporn Rerngronasa.
Thailand has been an extremely popular wedding/honeymoon destination in Asia. “India is definitely our largest incoming source in this niche market. We last year welcomed over 400 couples organising wedding ceremonies and honeymoon in Thailand. With hundreds of guests attending Indian weddings, we are talking about a huge economic driving force”, added TAT Deputy Governor.
According to Mrs Rerngronasa, wedding couple spend at least THB 2 to 2.5 million (US$57,000 to US$71,000) but it can go easily up to THB 5/15 million(around US$150,000 to US$400,000) for some Indian weddings. “Thailand offers a luxury superb product, generally far cheaper than in India itself. This explains our success. We then organise a proper B2B meeting with agencies coming only from India”, told Mrs. Rerngronasa.
Latest available data over wedding travel in Thailand show a total of 1.04 million wedding and honeymoon related trips back to 2012 generating revenues of THB34.62 billion, equivalent to almost one billion US dollars.
Among other Asian groups showing rapid growth is China “but it is mostly for pre-wedding activities such as photo shooting sessions or for honeymoon travels”, highlighted Juthaporn Rerngronasa. Interest for this niche travel segment extends now to overseas. Europe is emerging, particularly for honeymoon travels with a touch of luxury while the Middle East market and Africa are slowly turning into potential inbound markets for “Romantic Thailand”.
“We will continue to emphasize Thailand as a diverse luxury, high quality destination. We not only continue to promote Bangkok, Hua Hin, Phuket or Samui but we also highlight traditional Lanna experiences in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai”, added the Deputy Governor. Thailand wants also to promote activities beyond pure honeymoon trips. Volunteer tourism, spa and health, gastronomy, river or sea cruises are some of the related activities gaining popularity with newlyweds.