More than 1,000 couples from the Gulf countries, India and Pakistan are expected to marry this year in Turkey, earning the country more than $500 million (TL 8.87 billion) in wedding tourism revenue, according to industry representatives.
Wedding tourism, one of the biggest revenue streams in Turkey’s tourism industry, has already erased the traces of the pandemic. Turkey, which has once again become popular in destination weddings after a two-year hiatus, managed to hit 2019 numbers in the first seven months of the year.
Stating that 2019, which broke records in terms of number of weddings and revenue, will be surpassed by the end of this year, industry representatives aim to place Turkey among the top 10 countries for destination weddings. Turkey, which is expected to host more than 1,000 weddings for couples mainly from the Gulf countries, India, Pakistan and Azerbaijan, will generate more than $500 million.
Meltem Tepeler, founding director of the Turkish International Events Association (TUED) and European board member of the International Live Events Association (ILEA), said destination weddings had a strong start to the year. .
Tepeler noted that more than 1,000 couples will say “yes” to happiness in Turkey.
“We organize three different events: a welcome party, a henna party and a wedding. The minimum budget for a single organization event starts from $100,000 and goes up to $5-6 million as needed. The annual contribution of these marriages to the economy will exceed a minimum of $500 million,” she explained.
Tepeler pointed out that they receive the most requests from Gulf countries to hold a wedding in Turkey and that Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran are currently in the top three.
These countries are followed by India and Pakistan, she said, noting that weddings are very important to Indians and they love luxury.
“That’s why weddings for Indian couples are worth millions of dollars,” she said.
Stating that between 100 and 1,000 guests come to weddings, Tepeler said guests stay at least three days.
“They stay three days just for the wedding. Then they absolutely want to see different cities. Their average stay is seven days,” she added.
Wedding tourism not only contributes to the events industry, but also to many other industries, from hospitality to restaurants to retail, Tepeler said. “Wedding guests who prefer the most luxurious hotels spend $1,000 to $1,500 a day on accommodation and food alone. Additionally, when we include their budgets for shopping, daily expenses can reach $4 to $5 000 dollars,” she said.
Pointing out that the guests who came for the wedding came back to the country for a vacation, Tepeler said, “We even have guests who come here and buy a house. Last week, an Iranian guest who came for a wedding bought an apartment in Istanbul for $1 million.
The upward momentum for destination weddings will continue in the coming year, the industry executive said.
“We have already started receiving applications for 2023. Contracts for some weddings have been signed. We think we will set new records next year unless something goes wrong,” she added.
Explaining that Turkey is still not in the Top 10 for destination weddings, Tepeler said, “Dubai is our biggest competitor in this area. Our goal is to make our country the Top 10 as soon as possible.”
Istanbul is the most popular location for weddings in Turkey. “Hotels bordering the Bosphorus, in particular, are the most requested locations. There is also demand for luxury hotels and rural weddings,” Tepeler said.
Noting that Istanbul is followed by Antalya and Bodrum in southern Turkey, Tepeler said: “Recently Cappadocia has also started to stand out as an important destination.”