After a long gap, the picturesque lake-side properties of Kumarakom have once again started adding a fresh layer of experience to the nuptial preparations of young couples.
Even as tourism strives hard to bounce back in the village destination, the industry stakeholders here are now looking up to destination weddings to boost the prospects of the hospitality industry in Kumarakom. As per estimates, the village hosted at least seven destination weddings ever since the reopening of hotels and resorts in the village from mid-September onwards.
“We also have a handful of inquiries coming in though this is yet to get converted into a demand for accommodation, as the room bookings in connection with these wedding functions remains considerably low. But given the current trend, the sector is expected to pick up momentum by the second quarter next year,” said K. Arun Kumar, secretary, the Chamber of Vembanad Hotels and Resorts (CVHR).
With the COVID-19 guidelines stipulating a sharp cut down in costs including the number of guests, the wedding packages are now offered at a much lower price. “The post-COVID regulations, which envisage the marriages to be a very intimate affair, appears to have drawn the interest of premium customers within the State,” he added.
With an open-to-sky setting and the placid Vembanad lake in the backdrop, Kumarakam hosted about 75 destination weddings last year alone and the sector, according to the hoteliers, was growing steadily by an average of 25-30% per year. These weddings, planned at least six months in advance and involves at least a couple of days of accommodation, meal plans and other programmes, generated an average billing of ₹20 lakh per event.
The business, however, witnessed massive cancellations from the second half of March following the COVID-19-induced lockdown. A majority of these bookings, according to the resort owners, is from Europe while a few bookings came from the north Indian States too.
Meanwhile, the revival of destination weddings is expected to spur the local economy. “A majority of these events are organised on the basis of certain themes, which involves the staging of cultural events, sourcing of local cuisine or handicraft or even offering the village-life experience to the guests. That way, it serves as a consistent source of income to the local populace.” explained K. Rupesh Kumar, State coordinator, Responsible Tourism Mission Kerala.