After lull of 20 months, big fat weddings back; traders hopeful of great season
With the decline in the Covid-19 cases and the Maharashtra government easing restrictions, the ‘big fat Indian weddings’ are back on the cards. After a lull of about 20 months owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, hotels, banquet halls and open grounds across the state are witnessing hectic activities as people have now started holding grand-scale weddings.
All the banquet halls in leisure destinations such as Alibag, Lonavala and Karjat have been fully booked till January.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has estimated 2.5 million weddings across the country between November 14 and December 13, which are likely to generate business more than ₹3 lakh crore. Of the 2.5 million weddings, 400,000 are slated to be held in Maharashtra alone and are likely to generate business of approximately worth ₹20,000 crore.
The stakeholders from the hospitality and other sectors feel that the government should now relax the restriction imposed on the number of guests allowed for wedding ceremonies. The state has allowed 200 people for weddings in open places, while in closed-hall venues, the number has been limited to 100 attendees or 50% capacity of the venue, whichever is less.
St Regis Hotel at Lower Parel said banquet bookings, which suffered the most during the pandemic, have bounced back to business. “We will host at least 20-30 weddings in November and 40 in December. Weddings are one of the biggest revenue generators for us and we had suffered a lot during the pandemic. The business is reviving now,” said Nicholas Dumbell, general manager, St Regis.
Radisson Blu Mumbai International Airport Hotel, which has two banquet halls along with a lawn, is also seeing many bookings.
“It is welcome change as people are back to holding grand celebrations. The confidence [in the industry] is back,” said Pankaj Saxena, the hotel’s general manager.
“We had a fabulous Diwali and now even the wedding scene is all set to dazzle in the coming months. People have again started spending on celebrations,” said Rajendra Bathiya, executive chairman, CAIT (Maharashtra), adding that more than 25 sectors, including catering, decorations, food items, flowers, jewellery, transport, entertainment and clothing are directly related to the wedding industry. “This will give a great boost to both various businesses as well as generate large-scale employment,” he added.
According to representatives from Revmerito, which is a revenue management consultancy firm for around 75 hotels in India, people prefer nearby destinations for weddings. “As most of the destinations abroad are closed, we are witnessing a huge response for places such as Alibag, Lonavala, Wada and Karjat, where people are holding destination weddings. Opulence Resort at Alibag, which started in October, is fully booked for weddings till January-end,” said Vishal Ajwani, director, Revmerito.
The wedding industry had suffered a lot during the pandemic as there was hardly any activity during the lockdown. Besides, the government had restricted the number of guests initially to 20. In the second wave which started in February, many weddings were cancelled.
The Indian Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA) said jewellers are expecting record sales this wedding season. “Many families had postponed their celebrations in the past two years and are now splurging on jewellery,” said Kumar Jain, president, IBJA (Mumbai). “People saved a lot of money during the pandemic as they did not travel abroad or indulge in eating out or shopping. They are now buying jewellery,” he added.
The Bombay Caterers Association (BCA) said though the bookings have started, many grand weddings have shifted either out of Mumbai owing to the restriction on guests. “As Mumbai has a strict rule on restrictions on the number of guests, people are now holding grand celebrations outside the city limits. As Covid-19 cases are declining, we are seeing restrictions being eased all around. So the cap on guests should also be relaxed further,” said BCA spokesperson Lalit Jain.
Savio D’sa, a hospitality consultant who also hosts wedding parties, said the guest restrictions need to be waived off at the earliest. “If there are more guests, more will be money spent [for the ceremonies], thereby helping the state exchequer. This [rule on guest limitation] needs to be rectified at the earliest,” said D’sa.
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