Capturing the potential of shopping tourism, combining with comprehensive investment and development strategies, Malaysia has succeeded in positioning and promoting the country as one of the world's top shopping tourism destinations.

The Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival (MMSC) was first held in August 2000 to promote Malaysia as one of the world's best shopping tourism destinations. In 2002, Malaysia generated 5.13 billion RM in revenue from shopping, accounting for more than 20% of the total tourist expenditure. This figure shows the attractiveness of shopping tourism in Malaysia.

Realizing the development potential of this type of tourism, in 2002, Tourism Malaysia established Secretariat Shopping Malaysia (SSM) to promote shopping tourism in Malaysia as a world-class shopping destination for domestic and foreign tourists.

Three missions of SSM are planning marketing campaigns, shopping events, and activities to highlight shopping experience to tourists; forming strategic partnerships and creates marketing initiatives with domestic and international trade and shopping industry players; facilitating and coordinating shopping-related government policies as well as private-public sector initiatives that promote the country as one of the world’s best shopping destination.

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The establishment of SSM showed Malaysia's efforts and determination in the strategy of developing shopping tourism to become a strength of the national tourism sector. Tourism Malaysia has cooperated with many associations in the tourism, shopping, and retail sectors in the country, implementing many initiatives to promote shopping tourism, from investing in shopping facilities to building marketing campaigns and big promotions.

By the end of 2003, Malaysia had seen a surge in tourist arrivals to Malaysia every month of nationwide shopping campaigns (March, August, and December), with the increase of arrivals around 150,000 to 200,000 arrivals. The number of retailers participating in the sale campaign also tripled compared to the first time the event took place.

With the increase in shopping demand of tourists in Malaysia, major shopping campaigns across the country have expanded and flourished, took place from once a year to three times a year. Each campaign lasted about two months, offering tourists lots of promotions, valuable products at attractive prices. Malaysia's three biggest shopping campaigns include 1Malaysia Super Sale (formerly 1Malaysia Grand Prix Sale) usually held in Q1, 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival which usually takes place in the middle of the year, and 1Malaysia Year-End Sale which usually takes place at the end of the year.

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Malaysia also invests heavily in the construction of shopping areas and facilities for the shopping experiences of tourists. As of 2015, Malaysia had about 360 malls across the country, a three-fold increase compared to the number of 100 shopping malls recorded by the end of the 1980s. Shopping malls are in eight clusters of major shopping destinations including Klang Valley, Penang, Johor, Malacca, Kota Kinabalu (Sabah), Federal Territory of Labuan, Kuching & Miri (Sarawak), and Langkawi in Kedah. Each shopping mall has a full range of shopping segments from street markets, handicraft centers, mid-range stores to premium, exclusive and duty-free shops.

Tourism Malaysia has been also constantly developing and expanding these clusters of shopping destinations by building thematic and experiential lifestyle malls, developing them into complexes including hotels, offices, parks, and integrating many dining and entertainment services to bring convenience and comfort experiences to tourists.

In 2016, Malaysia firstly introduced Miss SHOPhia - shopping Malaysia's icon. Miss SHOPhia is a Malaysian lady who is knowledgeable about fashion, design, and food, acting as a companion to shopping tourists in Malaysia. Miss SHOPhia will guide shoppers on new fashion trends, the latest news on when and where to shop, as well as tips on shopping in Malaysia. Not only present in domestic shopping campaigns, but Miss SHOPhia also appears in shopping campaigns in other countries to promote the shopping experience in Malaysia and attracts tourists to the country.

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The positive results

The efforts of Malaysia Tourism helped Malaysia put its name on the world shopping tourism map, reflected in the spending intentions of tourists and many international awards it had been awarded.

In 2015, shopping tourism overtook accommodation, became the most spent activity by foreign tourists when traveling to Malaysia, accounting for 31.3% of the total 69.1 billion RM tourist expenditures. In 2018, tourist spending in Malaysia reached 28.1 billion RM, an increase of 4.6% compared to 2017.

In addition, Kuala Lumpur was ranked the world’s Fourth Best Shopping City in 2012 and 2013 by CNN, bringing Kuala Lumpur to the list of shopping capitals in the world. In 2012, the capital was also ranked as the Second Best Shopping Destination in Asia - Pacific by Globe Shopper Index. In addition, Malaysia was ranked fifth by Expedia UK in the list of the World's Best Shopping Destinations in 2016.

Source: Destination Review

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