Advertisement

Malaysian retailers pin hopes on visa-free travel to grow sales in CNY 2024

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — Retailers are anticipating a major jump in sales receipts early next year during the Chinese New Year season following the government’s 30-day visa-free travel policy to lure foreign tourists to Malaysia, The Star reported today.

Malaysia Shopping Malls Association president Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok told the newspaper that it is a bit too late for retailers to capitalise on the visa-free initiative for visitors from China and India as promotional events are already underway as planned.

But he added that shopping complexes are eagerly anticipating an increase in foreign tourist arrivals starting from the Chinese New Year season – which falls on February 10 and 11 in 2024 – and expects them to take advantage of the weak ringgit to spend big while in Malaysia.

“We have been lobbying for this visa-free policy for tourists, especially for visitors from China and India because they used to be our biggest tourist arrivals,” he was quoted as saying.

Uzaidi Udanis, chairman of the Consortium of Inbound Tourism Alliance, also expressed similar expectations for big-ticket spending by foreign visitors to Malaysia with the visa-free policy that eases the travel process, saying its members are already receiving a lot of inquiries.

“The impact is there, we have received lots of interest and enquiries. Our agents are rushing for quotations, and bookings will be coming.

“We are hoping the Christmas season will be a bit better but we are banking on the Chinese New Year holidays in February and during the winter in March for our Chinese and also Indian markets,” Uzaidi told The Star.

Malaysia Retailers Association president Datuk Andrew Lim said local retailers observed a surge in sales activity in October and is upbeat that sales will return to pre-pandemic levels last seen in 2019.

“The signs are encouraging. Our local shoppers are now returning to shop, especially with the school holidays, December year-end holidays, Christmas, and New Year approaching.

“Hopefully, these three months will recover some sales for our members,” he was quoted as saying.

But he also said visitors from China might not come here so soon as many would likely have made travel bookings in advance for their year end holidays and for the 2024 Chinese New Year season.

“This is a positive move, but we don’t expect an immediate effect.

“We hope that the effect will come after Chinese New Year. Right now, all foreign tourists have already made their travel plans,” he was quoted as saying.

To Lim, retail sales is more reliant on domestic demand compared to the role played by foreign visitors in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic that curbed global travel starting in 2020.

He also suggested that one of the reasons for the slow start in inbound travel could be down to national carrier Malaysia Airlines’ subdued operations.

“One of the factors is that MAS is not in full force yet. So, the airline must start flying again as it used to in 2019, to bring a lot of foreign tourists into Malaysia,” he was quoted as saying, using the old acronym for the airlines.

Lim called on other local carriers, namely Firefly and AirAsia, to prioritise flights to Malaysia to help revive the retail sector.

Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said his ministry will not disclose information about its target for Chinese and Indian tourist arrivals in Malaysia next year. — Bernama pic      
Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said his ministry will not disclose information about its target for Chinese and Indian tourist arrivals in Malaysia next year. — Bernama pic

Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said his ministry will not disclose information about its target for Chinese and Indian tourist arrivals in Malaysia next year. — Bernama pic  

The Star also reported Tourism, Arts, and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing saying he has informed local tourism players to be prepared for an expected influx of tourists.

However, he said his ministry will not disclose information about its target for Chinese and Indian tourist arrivals in Malaysia next year.

“We need to observe the number of visitors arriving with visa exemptions, as this convenience for Chinese and Indian tourists has just commenced on December 1,” he was quoted as saying.

Instead, he said 26 million foreigners entered Malaysia from January to November 15 this year, based on data from the Immigration Department.