Rupee ripple impact fancy weddings in Thailand

| Bangkok, Thailand | 6 Dec 2016 | Asia Samachar |

thai-weddings-2India’s move to take huge sums of cash out of circulation to curb ‘black money’ could have an impact beyond its shores, with fancy weddings in Thailand among the possible casualties, reports Bangkok Post.

Thailand is the favourite spot for well-heeled Indians to tie the knot, and local hoteliers and providers of related services are growing nervous. They fear some weddings may be cancelled or postponed until families feel more confident about their cash flow.

Three scheduled destination weddings, two in Abu Dhabi and one in Thailand, have been cancelled and shifted back to India as a direct result of the cash crunch, according to Chandan Ratra, the New Delhi-based director of Katalyst Entertainment Pvt Ltd, which arranges musical entertainment for international destination weddings.

“For sure, it’s going to affect [destination weddings] this year [as] people are having setbacks,” he was quoted in the newspaper in a report entitled ‘Rupee Ripple (Bangkok Post, 5 Dec 2016). “As of now, people are not in a very good mood and it will take a few months for them to overcome this.”

Katalyst arranges entertainment for about 150 destination weddings per year. Spending on a single destination wedding can range anywhere from US$3,000 (105,000 baht) to between $700,000 and $800,000, he said.

“Approximately 60-70% of destination weddings will not happen [in the coming months],” he predicted.

The report also spoke to India-Thai Business Association president Satish Sehgal.

He agreed that cash-strapped Indians would probably refrain from their usual extravagant spending in the next few months. He does not foresee too big an impact on Thailand, though.

“They used to spend anything between 50 million and 100 million baht for a wedding [and] that sum is likely to drop,” he said, referring to Indian millionaires and billionaires.

“But the numbers will not drop. I think [Indian] people will still continue to organise weddings in Thailand because Thailand is the number one [spot for] destination weddings for Indians — not only Indians from India, but Indians from all over the world.”

Ram Sachdev, president of the Thai Indian Wedding Association, reports no cancellations so far, noting that weddings normally are planned six months in advance.

“Whatever measures are taken to eradicate black money in India may have an immediate, but very short-term effect [on Indian weddings held in Thailand],” he was quoted in the same report. “Basically, it is not about money, [but] people are in a wait-and-see situation.”

As well, he points out that fewer than half of Indian weddings staged abroad originate from India itself. The rest are arranged by Indians living in countries such as Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, England, and the United States.

For wedding planners, “exotic Thailand” adds more value than other regional destinations as Indian weddings are a rich mixture of tradition, festivity and ritual all rolled into one single occasion, said Mr Sachdev.

Indian destination weddings held in Thailand last year totalled around 200, while almost 300 have been held so far this year, underlining the country’s growing popularity, the report said.

At the JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa, a popular destination for Indian couples, it is still business as usual, according to Minelli De Kretser, director of meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition (Mice) sales. “We have not had any cancellations of Indian weddings this year,” she said.

The hotel hosted six destination weddings last year and has held three this year, with five events booked so far for 2017 between February and November.

“For Indian destination weddings and leisure business, most of our Indian guests are non-residents coming from Singapore, Australia, the UK, Hong Kong and Spain,” said Ms De Kretser.

A total of 986,000 Indians arrived in Thailand in the first 10 months of 2016, up 12% year-on-year, according to the Department of Tourism. Thailand earned 49 billion baht in tourism revenue from India in 2015 and the Tourism and Sports Ministry aims for 8% growth this year from 1.1 million Indian tourist arrivals.

Doctors and lawyers make up the most of the company’s clients, with Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Europe the company’s major tourism markets.

Mr Singh said Indian arrivals in Thailand could even increase as the Thai government has waived the visa application fee and halved the-visa-on-arrival fee for tourists from 19 countries, including India, from Dec 1 to Feb 28.

Business-to-business impact, meanwhile, will be seen to a certain degree as many overseas Indians are under-invoicing, a practice where a trader states the price of goods on an invoice as being less than what was paid in order to avoid tariffs, said Mr Sehgal.

In such cases, he said, repercussions are inevitable as certain payments are made using black money.

For the full report, go here.


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