Uptick In Indian Weddings A Boon For Hawaii Visitor Industry


HAWAII, U.S., February 10, 2013 (Star Advertiser): The recent union of Gitika Ahuja and Rajeev Kaul was a love match that holds promise for the state of Hawaii.

The New York couple brought about 150 guests from their native India and all over the world to their destination wedding on Oahu Island. The main event was a sacred Hindu ceremony February 1 at the Royal Hawaiian Golf Course in Kailua. The bejeweled groom arrived on horseback with a boisterous Bollywood-style entourage. The bride, who wore a custom-made white “lengha” with gold and ruby tones, looked regal. The helicopter flyover and orchid drop at the end of the ceremony cemented their VIP status.

But the nuptials were only one part of the festivities. The full celebration spanned several days — a welcome event at the Sheraton Waikiki’s RumFire, pre-wedding parties at the Kathy Ireland estate in East Oahu, a wedding reception at the Royal Hawaiian and a next-day family brunch.

“There were hundreds of people working on just this one wedding,” said Mira Savara, owner of Indian Weddings in Hawaii, who coordinated the various events. “We worked with vendors from all over Oahu. They supplied everything from henna artistry to food and beverage to flowers and decorations, rentals, music, lighting, photography and videography, to transportation and more.”

Couples like the Kauls who come to the isles for traditional Indian weddings represent a small but growing trend for Hawaii’s tourist economy. Few visitors come to Hawaii directly from India, but the country’s developing economy and the recent boom in local Indian weddings has put the country on the visitor industry’s radar.

“As the second most populous country in the world, India has a growing middle class with disposable income and increasing demand to travel abroad,” Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO Mike McCartney said.

According to estimates from HTA and the federal Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, 2,229 Indian visitors came to Hawaii through August 2012. While HTA has no details on the reason for their visits, some in Hawaii’s visitor industry speculate that wedding invitations have fueled demand.

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