Retailers have appealed to the government to focus more on drawing in tourists to provide a spending-spree boost.
Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) president Datuk Seri Garry Chua said tourism played a crucial role in reviving the nation’s economy.
“This is because spendings by tourists not only trickle down to the retail market, it
also has an effect on other sectors such as transportation, entertainment, food and health.
“The moment they arrive, they will spend on all these things. We definitely have a lot to offer tourists.
“I urge the Federal Government to spend more money and give more focus on the tourism sector,” he said.
Chua cited figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which estimated that international tourist arrivals had increased by 6% to 1.4 billion in 2018.
According to the UNWTO data, the Chinese were the biggest spenders in the world with an international tourism expenditure of US$277bil (RM1.1 trillion) in 2018, which was also a 5% increase from 2017.
“Whether we like it or not, the Chinese are probably the biggest investors and tourists in the world. So we need to get more of them to come to Malaysia,’’ he said.
With renewed Malaysia-China ties, Chua hoped that more Chinese tourists would boost the retail business in the country.
Last April, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia would see more Chinese tourists if the visa process was expedited and targeted for at least 30 million tourists from China by next year.
Chua also said that Thailand received more than 10 million tourists from China alone in 2018, which brought about positive effects for its economy.
“That’s why Thai shopping malls are not worried about the lack of occupancy and business. But here, we are because more and more shopping malls are coming up.
“By 2020, we will have about 700 malls. So we need more tourists,” he said.
Chua said that MRCA and the Malaysia International Retail and Franchise (MIRF) had increased their membership to more than 500 members, with the latest to join being Starbucks, KFC, McDonald’s, Parkson, LG, Epson, Bata and Harvey Norman.
He also added that an estimated 20,000 visitors from 20 countries were expected to attend the 2019 MIRF exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from July 18 to 20.