SUBANG - Shopping and retail tourism will remain a key focus area during the Visit Malaysia Year 2014.
Tourism and Culture Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng said shopping had traditionally been a subsidiary activity while people travelled but with travel costs going down, the concept had changed.
"People used to shop while travelling to buy souvenirs and gifts but the situation has changed," he said in his address during the launch of 1Malaysia Year End Sale (1MYES) and Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY2014) organised by the Sunway Group here yesterday.
He said retail tourism had become a popular leisure pursuit and statistics from the ministry suggested that it made up a large portion of tourist spending.
"It contributed a total of RM18bil to the country's economy last year," he said.
He noted that the ministry would double its efforts to maintain Malaysia's position as one of the World's top 10 Best Shopping Cities as revealed by CNN Travel, ahead of other well-established cities.
"These accolades have strengthened Kuala Lumpur's position as a shopping paradise not only in the region but the world as well," he said.
With strong participation of industry leaders, such as Sunway Group, the Tourism and Culture Ministry was confident in expanding the inbound tourist market share in tandem with the growth of the Asia Pacific market, he added.
"We are confident of achieving our target of attracting 28 million tourists for VMY 2014 and RM76bil in tourists receipt.
"We should take advantage of the recognition that the country received and double our efforts to develop and stimulate the shopping and tourism sector further.
"Shopping-driven extravaganzas such as 1MYES will remain as one of the central platforms to drive tourism expenditures.
"This 1MYES is a prelude to an even more exciting shopping experience to be held next year, where the best bargains, the best choices, and the best shopping experience in the region will be offered," he said.
On the ministry's future plans, Dr Ong said it will look forward to continuously promoting some 20 to 40 malls where tourists would go for the three annual sales.