M'sia, ranked 4th, can remain one of world's top shopping destinations if GST implemented well

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia should be able to maintain its position as one of the world's best shopping destinations if the recently announced goods and services tax (GST) is implemented well, said YTL Corp Bhd managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh.

For the last two years, CNN Travel has voted Kuala Lumpur as the fourth best shopping city in the world. Malaysia is also known as a duty-free shopping haven.

Thus, the implementation of the GST could have an impact on the tourism industry, Yeoh told reporters at a pre-event press conference on Asia's grandest luxury watch and jewellery showcase A Journey Through Time.

"The Government should think out of the box and not only do it (tax refund for tourists) at the airport but also in other designated places," he said.

Yeoh added that the Government still had time to think ahead and plan properly before implementing the GST in April 2015 so that the country would remain competitive in attracting tourists.

He said redemption counters should be placed strategically to provide convenience for tourists.

Said Yeoh: "London is one of the most expensive but also most awesome shopping places in the world because its value-added tax (a form of consumption tax) was implemented in a friendly, fair and efficient manner."

He also noted that Kuala Lumpur's rent-to-sales ratio was still very attractive regionally and malls such as Starhill Gallery had been able to pique the interest of world-class and exclusive brands to set up stores here.

YTL Corp owns Starhill Gallery via its 36 per cent-owned Starhill Global Real Estate Investment Trust or REIT.

"Support from mall owners or operators to help brands finance their capital expenditure would help them stay here and expand, and this would, in turn, result in people getting a fantastic shopping experience," he explained.

According to him, luxury French brand Louis Vuitton is tripling its original size from 5,000 sq ft to 15,000 sq ft, while Christian Dior is doubling from 5,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft in Starhill Gallery.