The weakened ringgit, a new outlet mall in Kuala Lumpur’s outskirts and year-round sales are compelling reasons for avid shoppers to visit Malaysia.
To leverage the love for shopping among Asians and Middle Eastern travellers, which made up 91.2 per cent of Malaysia’s tourist arrivals in 2014, the government and private sector have rolled out a slew of initiatives to encourage higher visitor spending.
The chief reasons that make Malaysia a value-for-money shopping destination is the weakened ringgit against major currencies as well as a hassle-free tourist refund scheme implemented at eight international airports since April 1, 2015. There are also duty exemptions on a wide range of merchandise like jewellery, cosmetics, fragrances and computers.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has timed three sales periods to coincide with peak travel periods in Malaysia: the week when the annual Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix is held in April, the Middle East summer holidays around mid-year and the year-end holiday season. These nationwide sales periods are promoted by Tourism Malaysia to overseas markets.
Noraza Yusof, head of tourism, Kuala Lumpur City Hall, said City Hall is also looking at introducing shorter sales periods that coincide with international brands to increase sale impact. This will further cement Kuala Lumpur’s position as a preferred shopping destination with a strong value-for-money proposition, she added.
Travel consultants too are benefiting from the nationwide sales periods.
Adam Kamal, CEO of Rakyat Travel, has created shopping packages that coincide with the 1Malaysia GP Sale, 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival (July to August) and 1Malaysia Year-end Sale (mid-November to January).
He said: “Tourists from the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei have been very receptive to these three-day, two-night packages. We offer a range of accommodation in the Bukit Bintang area and airport transfers. Those who buy our packages come here only to shop, as savings can be as much as 70 per cent off normal retail prices.”
Ally Bhoonee, executive director of World Avenues, a major player in the Middle East inbound market, said: “This recognition has helped the tourism industry to promote shopping more aggressively, especially now that the weakened ringgit provides more bargains and reasons for tourists to visit Malaysia. At the same time, it brings in more revenue to the country.”
To make shopping in major areas more conducive for pedestrians, Kuala Lumpur City Hall built covered walkways linking shopping malls in the Bukit Bintang area with its surrounds in late 2014. Shoppers can now walk in comfort through a 4.5km covered elevated pedestrian walkway that links Berjaya Times Square mall to Pavilion Kuala Lumpur through Sungei Wang Plaza mall.
In July, Kuala Lumpur’s first outlet mall, Mitsui Outlet Park Klia Sepang, opened less than a 10-minute drive from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the LCC terminal Klia2. This is the second outlet mall to open in Malaysia, following Johor Premium Outlets which opened in 2011.
Conceived as a last-minute shopping venue, Mitsui Outlet Park Klia Sepang provides a free baggage storage service, where shoppers can leave their luggages while they shop. The outlet also offers a flight check-in centre which allows visitors to obtain their boarding passes, while a flight information display system allows travellers to check flight information without leaving the site.
Welcoming the debut of an outlet mall near the airport, John Chan, business consultant, Kris International Traveltours, said: “We bring tourists here as a last shopping stop prior to their departure. The offerings are a boon to travellers as it offers very good buys. It also allows them to dispose of their excess ringgit prior to departure, and this benefits the local economy.”
Furthermore, overseas visitors will benefit from the Super Pass, a travel guide-cum-discount booklet. It was published in April and acts as a discount voucher book with savings of up to 70 per cent on retail, attractions and F&B.
“(The Super Pass) helps travllers to plan their holiday better before arriving in Malaysia,” said Alex Wong, senior manager - global marketing at Apollo Knight.