Of the three highest profile “big ticket” Indian weddings to take place over the past two years, two took place in historic locations — one in Italy and another at the Umaid Bhavan Palace in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. According to Rajeev Jalnapurkar, CEO of Ramoji Film City, this shows that India, with its large number of historic monuments, has the potential to cater to the global wedding tourism market.
“Considering tourism numbers worldwide, India’s share is at the micro level despite large population. In India, we don’t promote our heritage sites, unlike the west. By capitalising on our monuments and by viewing weddings as ‘experiences,’ we can potentially bring crores of rupees in revenue to those towns and villages with monuments or natural parks,” said Jalnapurkar on the last day of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Chambers of Commerce and Business meet in the city on Wednesday.
According to K Shiva Shanmugam, former president of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), tourist engagement in Karnataka is steadily increasing. Citing figures from 2016, which showed that 8.9 million foreign visitors had spent $23.1 billion in the state, he pointed out that Karnataka is currently the third most popular state in India for tourists.
“We have over 5,000 protected monuments in the state. By increasing hospitality services across the state, we can attract more visitors and increase employment. Studies have shown that one hotel room supports up to 16 employment opportunities,” he said.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Karnataka Tourism Secretary T K Anil Kumar said not all of these 5,000 monuments are suitable for turning into tourist hubs.
“Many are small temples or are located atop hills. But as far as wedding tourism is concerned, we are open to expanding those heritage sites falling within the jurisdiction of the tourism department. The Lalith Mahal Palace in Mysuru is one example of this.”
The unavailability of historic sites should not discourage the Asean nations, said Jalnapurkar, who recommended simulating or replicating World Heritage Sites.
“By creating replicas of the caves, we can draw those visitors who are unable to visit the real caves,” Jalnapurkar said.
Big ticket celebrity weddings, especially by Bollywood stars, have captured the public’s imagination. In late 2017, Indian batsman Virat Kohli and actor Anushka Sharma tied the knot in Tuscany. On December 1, 2018, actors, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas married at Jodhpur, followed two days later, by the marriage of Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh at Italy’s historic Lake Como.