In officially atheist China, it’s hard to imagine young Chinese couples tying the knot in a traditional Indian wedding ceremony. But India’s tourism office in Beijing thinks the idea is not far-fetched.
To entice the young Chinese to spend their wealth in India as the yuan rises and the dollar sinks, the India Tourism office will arrange mock marriages for Chinese couples in India’s biggest and almost untapped tourism market.
“We want to put India on China’s honeymoon itinerary,’’ India Tourism Director Shoeb Samad told the Hindustan Times in his six-month-old Beijing office. “China, like India, has a major wedding industry. We are networking to come in as wedding managers.’’
The scheme planned for early next year, will include a sponsored bridal lehenga and a honeymoon photo clicked before the Taj Mahal. Couples will be chosen from contests and lucky draws held in Chinese wedding magazines.
“Indian marriage ceremonies can showcase India and fascinate the Chinese,’’ said Samad, who carries a miniature marble Taj to tourism meetings he attends.
Industry insiders think the wedding plan might work, since many young Chinese now fly to Hong Kong and Taiwan just to shoot wedding albums. “In all my promotional campaigns, I have urged Chinese couples to go to India to get married,’’ Candy Li, the Beijing-based North China Representative of Go India Journeys, told HT.
India and its largest trade partner make up about 40 per cent of the world’s population. But compared to the 4,60,000 Indians who visited China last year, only 94,000 Chinese visited India — up from about 62,000 in 2006.
In a sign of the new demand, Shanghai Airlines is the latest to map India with twice-weekly flights to Mumbai announced from October 29.
Samad’s team is planning a three-to-four month mega campaign. “Corporates are lining up outside my office to sponsor the air tickets, lehenga, everything,’’ he said. “Winners will get discounted honeymoon packages and be sent to India as celebrities. Their photos will be clicked in the backdrop of the Taj or the Qutub Minar and published in Chinese magazines."