Muscat: In India, there is a saying that weddings are made in heaven, and now, for the affluent Indians, the Sultanate – one of the safest countries with innate beauty is a haven for those who want to tie the knot in style.
Since 2014 until January this year, seven big fat Indian weddings have taken place, according to an Indian representative of the Oman tourism ministry.
A five-star hotel general manager has said that six more weddings are likely to be held this year. “The growth rate has been phenomenal as we have seen a positive growth in less than two years. Two high-profile weddings have already taken place in early 2016, with one being held in the Al Bustan Palace and second in Millennium Hotel. The hotels and destination management companies are currently working on enquiries for weddings for the next season i.e. October–December,” Lubaina Sheerazi, India’s representative of Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, said in an exclusive email interview to Times of Oman.
Recently, the glitzy wedding of Sasha Rawal, sister of Bollywood’s leading fashion designer Kunal Rawal, with Samarth Bajaj, scion of a prominent business family from Hyderabad, was a grand affair at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa.
In January, the Al Bustan Palace was fully occupied for another big fat Indian wedding for a couple of days. “Beautiful locations, authentic Arab culture, and pleasing locals are the three main aspects, which attract those looking for wedding destinations in Oman,” said Al Bustan general manager Katrin Herz.
“Oman is gaining popularity as a wedding destination in Asia. Six more big fat weddings are likely to take place in 2016,” Katrin said, adding that the drop in oil prices has affected the hotel industry in the region, and hotels are looking to diversify their activities such as by hosting grand weddings as one of the ways to cushion the downturn.
Recently, Millennium Resort Mussanah showcased its leisure, wedding, and corporate facilities at the 23rd edition of South Asia’s Leading Trade Show (SATTE). Held in New Delhi, India, the three-day event attracted over 750 participants from 35 countries and 25 states in India in addition to 30 international and 25 domestic tourism boards.
According to the Indian representative of Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, to make inroads into the Indian wedding industry, they have conducted familiarisation with exclusive wedding planners since 2013.
“The familiarisations comprised leading wedding planners from Mumbai and Delhi. We proactively pitched stories in magazines and undertook focused marketing on the digital platform along with WeddingSutra. WeddingSutra.com is the most popular source on wedding planning for Indians around the world,” said the Indian representative of Oman’s tourism ministry.
“We also plan to be present at wedding fairs and exhibitions in the coming years as it will help us reach out directly to the consumers. Through such nascent steps, we hope Oman will soon be reckoned as an ideal destination for holding weddings,” the
A few weeks ago, Ahmed bin Nasser Al Meherzi, Minister of Tourism, said that by 2020, or the end of the current five-year plan, there will be 20,000 hotel rooms in three- to five-star category hotels in Oman, and if the tourism sector continues to grow, the Sultanate will achieve this target before 2018.
“The (Oman Tourism) strategy includes the construction of 50,000 hotel rooms ‘three-stars and above’ during the next 25 years, with permits to build budget hotel rooms, but they will not be listed within the strategy,” the minister had said.
The Oman Tourism Strategy, which has been implemented since the beginning of 2016 after receiving approval from the council of ministers, focuses on several objectives, the foremost of which is boosting domestic tourism, particularly the recreational sector, which the ministry is currently executing.
Al Meherzi said total investments expected for this sector in coming years exceeds OMR1 billion. He added there were several projects being implemented, while others were issued licenses to be established, and some projects are still under study.