Foreigner wedding bells toll for Thai destinations

Corporate May 16, 2016 01:00

By SUCHAT SRITAMA
THE NATION
K

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SEVENTY-THREE buyers from 15 countries met with 116 local operators last week, promoting wedding business with the goal of making Thailand one of the top global destinations for the sector.



The Tourism Authority of Thailand held “Amazing Thailand Romance Trade Meets” events in Bangkok and Krabi from May 11-13, in order to promote the country as a truly major destination for wedding and honeymoon couples, said Juthaporn Rerngronasa, TAT’s deputy governor for International Marketing (Europe, Africa, Middle East and Americas). The Kingdom already ranks as a top-six global market for weddings and honeymoons, as well as being the most popular destination for such business in Asia, and an emerging destination among the Middle Eastern and African markets, she said. 
“This year, there is a strong record for selling weddings and honeymoons from major source markets such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, France, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia,” she added.
Representatives from these markets last week joined networking and business sessions with 64 local sellers at the Bangkok event, representing hotels, resorts, destination management companies and event planners based in Thailand. 
At the Krabi event, held two days later, they met Thai sellers from 52 companies – mainly resorts in the South. Operators focusing on the Indian market were not at the events because they had their own agenda and plans, Juthaporn said.
Weddings and honeymoons are billion-dollar earners for Asia’s tourism industry, and Thailand is emerging as one of the region’s top spots for tying the knot, she said. 
According to the TAT, wedding business worldwide is valued US$298 billion (Bt10.56 trillion), with $80 billion coming from overseas weddings. Amnart Laosirimongkol, director of operations at the Nakamanda Resort and Spa Krabi, said the property was built 13 years ago specifically to cater to weddings and honeymoons. 
The 39-villa resort operates at a 70-per-cent average occupancy rate, mostly accounted for by couples from the UK, Italy, France, Germany and Asian markets.
Darunee Narkprasert, director of sales and marketing at the Aonang Cliff Beach in Krabi, said the resort planned to open more 14 villas next year to serve higher demand for weddings. After the new villas are opened, it expects to increase the revenue proportion of wedding and honeymoon business from the current level of 10 per cent. 
Rong Phukaoluan, president of the Krabi Hotel Association, said Krabi had become a crowded destination due a large increase in the number of visitors travelling to the province.
Krabi Airport’s expansion plan is however scheduled to be completed by 2019, doubling the current capacity of 4.5 million arrivals per year. 
Currently, domestic and international airlines operate a total of 30 flights per day to the province, including charter flights. By end of the year, Qatar Airways will operate a direct service from Doha to Krabi, with four flights a week. 
South Korea’s Asiana Airlines wants to add Krabi as a new destination, but is unable to do so right now due to the airport’s limited capacity, Rong said.