Chennai, Aug 28 (IANS) With destination weddings catching up amongst rich Indian families, which in turn rakes in good money for hotels and others, Mauritius, the Indian Ocean island that is home to a sizable Indian diaspora, is targeting this segment in a serious manner, a senior official said.
"We have started talking to wedding planners in India. We took a group of wedding planners from here to Mauritius and plan to take another group soon to showcase what Mauritius offers," Mauritius Tourism Development Authority (MTDA) deputy director Vijaye Haulder told IANS here.
Haulder, whose forefathers hailed from West Bengal and settled in Mauritius several generations ago, is here to conduct road shows in four Indian cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore. He said Indian wedding planners or organisers would also be given handsome incentives that are offered to meetings, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) operators from India.
"Duty free liquor is also offered," he added.
Mauritius is a well-known wedding destination for European celebrities and sportspersons.
"In the case of Europeans or other nationalities, the wedding group would be not more than 10-15 people. In many cases only the to-be-married couple would come here. But Indian weddings are different," Haulder said.
He said the size of Indian wedding groups coming to Mauritius ranges between 350 and 800.
Such a large size bodes well for Air Mauritius - the sole airline flying direct to Mauritius out of India - the hotels and other tourist players there.
Haulder said around 8-10 Indian weddings are now being held in Mauritius. According to him, annually around 10 celebrity weddings happen in Mauritius. The celebrities are from varied fields - movie actors (China, Japan, Hollywood), football players and others.
Queried about promoting such weddings among Indian celebrities, he said: "We are open. We can have it free of cost. It would be a brand building exercise for us among Indians."
While celebrities would like to have their wedding in privacy, they do talk about it in their social media, which is a good branding activity for Mauritius Tourism, Haulder said.
"It is not only marriages, even engagement ceremonies and pre-engagement photography is being done in Mauritius by Indians," said Medha Sampat, founder, Knack Marketing, a travel marketing and representative company in Mumbai.
The company is the India representative for Sun Resorts Ltd that runs star hotels in Mauritius.
Sampat said the Indian wedding group size would be between 200 and 500 people, giving good food and beverage revenue to the hotels.
Normally members of Indian wedding groups would spend two or three nights in Mauritius.
Meanwhile, Mauritius Tourism hopes to attract around 60,000 Indians to Mauritius this year, up from around 58,000 people who travelled there last year.
According to Haulder, the island nation is confident of attracting more than one million tourists this year up from over 900,000 who visited in 2013.
"It is a medium-haul destination (travel time around six hours) and has got a European feel. It is a year-round tourist destination. The hotels and resorts are on the beaches and one need not go out in search of a beach," Vivek Anand, MTDA country manager-India, told IANS.
He, however, agreed that in terms of air fare Sri Lanka and the Maldives are much cheaper destinations.
Anand said Mauritius is a family destination where there are fun and adventure activities like submarine rides, undersea walks, walking with the lions et al for the entire family.
Air Mauritius connects Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore with Mauritius with its Airbus A-330 aircraft.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)