The South Asian wedding niche in Mexico has become a booming sub-specialty in the past few years. Cancun alone is attracting hundreds of U.S.-based wedding parties who come for Hindu ceremonies. Those numbers are on the rise, thanks to robust marketing efforts by the local hotel and wedding planning industry.
Next month, the Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Specialists Association (DWHSA) will present a "South Asian Wedding" training course at Dreams Tulum.
The full-day training will cover topics such as South Asian culture, traditions and languages, DWHSA executive director Lisa Sheldon tells Travel Agent.
Brenda Fernandez, CEO of Dream Weddings Mexico, will facilitate.
“Indian and Sikh weddings tend to be very large, multi-day events. They can have hundreds of guests. It’s a hugely exciting niche, but there’s a lot to learn. Our goal is to educate members and participants about the opportunities with this market,” said Sheldon.
Cancun’s wide range of hotel offerings and relative value make it a top draw for the South Asian market.
“Weddings that would normally cost $100,000 or $200,000 back home will be half that price. So many brands in Cancun have great wedding programs. I think the South Asian specialty is a really growing trend,” said Sheldon.
Several hotel brands have introduced South Asian wedding programs.
“Iberostar does great job, as does Live Aqua. AMResorts are fabulous. They have a great wedding program for the South Asian market. And Palace Resorts are great too. Moon Palace is so big they can offer a lot of options for the wedding party,” Sheldon added.
Frank Corzo, vice president of U.S. field sales for Palace Resorts, tells Travel Agent that value is only one factor in the surge in South Asian weddings.
“Clients love the backdrop of Mexico as a whole. They enjoy the fact that we can customize the wedding experience for them. We’re pretty excited about it. We want to work with agents to help them grow this business with our PRO Destination Wedding Specialist training,” said Corzo.
Among other tools, Palace Resorts will provide marketing materials for agents interested in reaching out to the South Asian community.
“If agents want to invest in any type of show or event that’s wedding related, we can work with them,” said Corzo.
Cancun isn’t the only Mexican destination attracting South Asian weddings.
“I was in Puerto Vallarta last June. There was a very small Indian wedding there. It looks like they brought their own vendors. I think this segment hasn’t taken off as much on the West Coast as in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, but the potential is certainly there,” said Sheldon.
Meanwhile, if clients are in fact heading to Cancun shortly, they should know that recent highway problems are under control. A large sinkhole closed the federal highway leading south between Cancun and Tulum on August 27. The road was re-opened the next day. According to published reports, the sinkhole was caused by a cenote that caved in.
Stacey Ray, owner of Groupit Travel in Cary, NC, spoke with Travel Agent from Cancun over Labor Day Weekend.
“I’ve had agent friends call me about this. But there’s nothing for anyone to worry about. We’ve had no trouble getting around. They built a road right around the problem,” said Ray.
Agents may be hearing from clients about another issue: seaweed. An unpleasant flow of sargassum seaweed has been washing ashore in Cancun (and other Caribbean beaches) this summer. Mexico has allocated emergency resources to help clear beaches.
“Clients are calling agents to complain, but it’s not as if we can control it. On every beach in Cancun, we’ve seen people raking the seaweed to clear it out. Every resort is doing the best they can do to make it better,” said Ray.