A former Miss France 2002, joined 14 French couples who participated in a lavish Thai-style wedding ceremony at the Rose Garden Riverside, under a Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) campaign to develop the French weddings and honeymoon market.
Each of the 14 couples will pay their own travel expenditure, but TAT and the Rose Garden Riverside will organise the Thai wedding ceremony including Thai cultural activities, cooking classes, Thai lifestyle show and some health and beauty treatments.
TAT Governor Mrs. Phornsiri Manoharn will be the honorary guest at the wedding ceremony on 11 June, 2008 at the Rose Garden Riverside.
Weddings and honeymoons are part of the TAT's global marketing campaign to stress niche market tourism, and France is a market with significant potential.
More than 300,000 couples tie the knot in France every year, and then go abroad for a honeymoon. Normally, they choose to travel to the Pacific islands and other islands still under the French administrative mandate, but the TAT Paris office felt this time some of the couples could be persuaded to try something different.
In February, the major French department store Galleries Lafayette organised a global weddings show called "Mariage du Monde" in which the Thai traditional wedding party was selected to represent the Asian countries. This was followed in April 2008 with another advertising campaign conducted with another French department store chain, Printemps.
The two department stores and their travel agency units, Galleries Lafayettes Voyages and Printemps Voyages, launched special packages for French couples to get married and honeymoon in Thailand by adding the travel programme as a "special gift" for married couples.
In support of the campaign, the TAT Paris office published 6,000 brochures inviting couples to get married in the Thai traditional style. These brochures were distributed at major French tourism exhibitions and also published on the TAT website www.tourismethaifr.com
during February through May 2008.
The first batch of 14 French couples are now set to have a wonderful time.
They will start their new lives after arrival at the Rose Garden Riverside with a briefing of the entire programme followed by a welcome lunch at the Inn-Chan restaurant and a honeymoon spa treatment.
The following day will be the actual wedding ceremony complete with Thai traditional costumes in the splendour of an antique Thai house. The grooms will be transported to the bridal house in Thai villages by elephant, rickshaw and boat.
They will enjoy the full ceremony, complete with the Holy Water ceremony during which guests will offer their blessings by pouring the Holy Water onto the couple's hands.
In the evening, a grand wedding reception will be held on the riverside lawn, with wedding couples arriving at the venue by rice barge. The party will come alive with music and dance, and end with all couples being invited to float their "Krathong" and make their wishes.
Over the next two days, they will enjoy visits to the renowned Thai village cultural show and elephant show, participate in a traditional Thai cooking class, take in a leisure sunset cruise along the Tachine River to Wat Raikhing and its fish sanctuary, and honey spa treatment.
Mrs Phornsiri said "We are sure that this first group of couples from France will have a really nice time and go back to tell their friends and relatives about their experience."
In 2007, visitor arrivals from France totalled 373,090, up 16.13% over 2006, and well above the overall average growth in arrivals from Europe of 11%. France is now the fourth biggest source of visitor arrivals from Europe, after Germany, the UK and Sweden but is gaining ground rapidly.
In 2008, TAT expects to welcome about 420,000 French visitors. French citizens are granted visa-free entry to Thailand. Recent trends indicate strong growth in female visitors, repeat visitors, independent travellers, business travellers, convention delegates, senior citizens and young people.