Muscat: Oman is likely to become the most-sought after destination for big fat Indian weddings in the region, an official from Oman's tourism promotion body in India said.
"Muscat is likely to witness two large-scale Indian weddings featuring 700 and 1,000 guests, in November and early next year, respectively. More potential enquiries have been there," Lubaina Sheerazi, Omani tourism official deputed in India, told the Times of Oman on phone.
As per industry estimates, the wedding market in India is about $25 billion, growing at a rate of 25 to 30 per cent annually.
Indians are constantly on the lookout for new wedding destinations, something that has become a trend now. "We feel Oman has a great potential to become a wedding destination. This strategy is based on the fact that Oman offers a blend of modern infrastructure and old world charm. Moreover, the destination is close to India, not only geographically but also culturally," Lubaina said.
In a bid to attract this segment, Oman had conducted an exclusive trip to familiarise wedding planners in India. "Recently, the tourism board participated in the The Experiential Planner 2014 in Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Following the nascent steps we undertook in the last one year, we received some good wedding enquiries," Lubaina added.
Meanwhile, a senior official from the Ministry of Tourism said that they are always keen to promote tourism activities in Oman and in foreign countries.
"We do our best to promote tourism activities in different categories like landscapes, heritage and cultural tourism. In addition to these, we always welcome promoting Oman as a wedding and honeymoon destination," Mohammed Al Riyami, an official at Foreign Affairs in the Ministry of Tourism, said.
A travel agent who is keen on promoting tourism to Oman, said that promoting the Sultanate as a wedding destination would boost the economy.
"Promoting Oman as a wedding destination will help the economy. Oman's modern infrastructure and old charm will be a treat for them," Renny Johnson, executive director at Mezoon Travels in Oman, said.
Renny had participated in several meetings in India aimed at promoting Oman as a wedding destination.
"The rules and regulations are much relaxed in Oman. The visitors can enjoy the stay in Oman and feel just if they are in their own country," Renny, who has organised 20 big-budget Indian film shootings in Oman, said. According to recent reports, the outlook for Oman's tourism industry looks bright as hotels and airport data show a significant increase in the number of visitors this year.
Visitors staying at Oman's four and five-star hotels grew by 23.8 per cent in for the first four months of the year, compared with the same period a year ago, figures from the National Centre for Statistics and Information showed.
Occupancy rates at the four and five-star hotels reached 71.6 per cent in April from 66.9 per cent a year earlier.
Hotels' revenue was up 10.5 per cent in April, with overall revenue reaching OMR65.9 million (Dh628.6m), compared with OMR59.7m a year ago.
Meanwhile, passenger traffic through Muscat International Airport was up eight per cent to 3.6 million passengers in the first five months of the year, compared with 3.4 million a year earlier.
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