Malaysia is a shopping paradise for many tourists


A file picture from 2018 at Jonker Walk in Melaka, where tourists and locals love to visit. — Filepic

There are different reasons for going on a trip, and different types of vacations that one can plan for. One of them is a shopping holiday, something that is seeing an uptick in post-lockdown travelling trends.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia’s (DOSM) latest data on domestic tourism trends (2021), shopping tourism is “becoming an increasingly relevant component of the tourism value chain”. What this means is that shopping plays a major role in determining the value of a holiday destination.

It is an important component of the overall travel experience, or a deal breaker, if you will. In some cases, it is even the main motivation for travel, where if the destination offers little to no shopping experience, then some folks may prefer to go somewhere else.

In Malaysia, shopping is one of the top categories that influence domestic tourists’ expenditure, according to the DOSM’s Domestic Tourism Survey conducted last year.

Even though overall domestic tourism expenditure fell by 54.5% in 2021 (mainly due to the lockdowns and various travel bans imposed nationwide), shopping remained the most popular purpose (36.4%) for travel among domestic visitors. Other purposes include visiting relatives and friends (24.2%), holidaying/relaxing (15.5%), seeking medical treatment/wellness (10.3%) and incentive travel/others (6.6%).

Tourism is definitely a boon for retailers, too. The global travel retail market size was valued at US$51bil (RM227.43bil) in 2021 and is projected to grow to over US$96.11bil (RM428.6bil) by 2029. There is a huge opportunity for both the retail and tourism industry to capitalise on this shopping holiday trend, and develop authentic shopping experiences that would add value to a destination.

Acknowledging this, Tourism Malaysia and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture in the past two years have come up with many initiatives in a bid to boost not just the tourism industry, but the country’s economy overall. New campaigns

The Shop & Be Rewarded Campaign returns for a second year running! Jointly organised by Tourism Malaysia and the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPKM), the campaign kicks off today and will take place over 16 days so there will be ample time for shoppers to earn their reward.

This time around, the Shop & Be Rewarded Campaign 2.0 will be split into two sessions: The first one is from Aug 20 to Sept 4, and the second will run from Oct 22 to Nov 6. As many as 35 shopping centres and malls within Peninsular Malaysia will be participating in the campaign.

Under this programme, shoppers can redeem an evoucher worth RM30 for a minimum spending of RM100. All you need to do is to scan the QR Code at participating malls, which will then take you to the PPKM app. In the app, just fill in your details (MyKad number, phone number, full name) and proof of purchase, in order to get the evoucher.

This offer is eligible to all Malaysian citizens, and is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. As many as 66,666 shoppers are expected to participate in the campaign (for both sessions), with vouchers totalling RM2mil in value.

On top of that, Tourism Malaysia is also holding the Miss SHOPhia Go Travel 2022 exhibition at selected venues as part of the Shop & Be Rewarded Campaign 2.0. This inaugural exhibition, launched yesterday at the 1Utama Shopping Centre in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, will be held until Aug 21; a second exhibition will be held at Paradigm Mall in Johor Baru, from Oct 21 to 23.

As many as 16 tourism-related businesses that focus on niche tourism will be promoting their products and packages at the exhibition. Craftwork demonstrations, cooking demonstrations, lucky draws and traditional performances will also be held during the three-day event.

Take part in the Shop & Be Rewarded 2.0 Campaign!Take part in the Shop & Be Rewarded 2.0 Campaign!

The 16 vendors involved in the exhibition are: Farm In The City, Karyaneka Malaysia, Associations Of Theme Park & Family Attractions, Association Of Malaysia SPA, Aurora: Adventure Leadership & Outdoor Recreation UPSI, eDU-Park UPM, Natural History Tours, Adventure 360 Tours, Gua Damai Extreme Park, Efa Nur Travel, Selangor Fruit Valley, Che Wan Scuba, PD Watersports, Paulini Heritage Craft, Tourland Travel and Malaysia Kampungstay & Homestay Association.

Another major initiative is the long-term partnership between Tourism Malaysia and Visa, in a bid to drive inbound travel and promote the country as a preferred travel destination.

The Visa Preferred Merchant Programme gives Visa cardholders access to exclusive offers for accommodation, air tickets, dining, shopping and medical wellness. The programme is available for both domestic and international travellers during identified tourist travel seasons online via the Tourism Malaysia (malaysia.travel) and Visa (visa.com.my) websites.

The government agency has also entered a tripartite collaboration with WCT Malls Management (wct.com.my) and Visa, where they work on a series of campaigns that all carry the common theme, #SHOPPINGEXTRAVAGANZA!.

Exciting programmes have been lined up to take place in WCT Malls’ retail properties around Peninsular Malaysia, like Paradigm Mall in Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Paradigm Mall in Johor Baru, and Gateway@klia2 in Sepang, Selangor.

In the Voucher Bonanza Sale campaign, shoppers get to enjoy 20% savings when they buy a WCT evoucher using a Visa card. A total of RM500,000 worth of shopping vouchers are up for grabs.

Shopping tourism is a niche tourism product that will continue to do well in Malaysia, not just in the domestic market, but international too. We have a good selection of brands – luxury, mid-range and budget – available nationwide, as well as quality made-in-Malaysia brands too.

On top of that, the shopping experience in Malaysia is also complemented by other great local experiences like food and heritage tours, cultural shows, nature excursions, adventure tourism and more.

Here are a few shopping malls worth checking out, as well as some popular markets that offer a rich cultural experience to visitors.

IOI City Mall is set to be the biggest mall in Malaysia, once Phase 2 launches next week. — FilepicIOI City Mall is set to be the biggest mall in Malaysia, once Phase 2 launches next week. — Filepic

IOI City Mall, Putrajaya

This new mall, said to be Malaysia’s biggest once its Phase 2 opens on Aug 25, is strategically located at IOI Resort City in Putrajaya. It is about a 30-minute drive from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, making it an attractive retail and entertainment hub for tourists.

There are plenty of tenants, shops and dining options at this mall, including AEON, Proton, Nitori, MajuHome Concept, Lotus’s, Harvey Norman, Parkson, HomePro and GSC, which offers the best in cinema experiences.

In total, IOI City Mall will have over 700 retail outlets by Aug 25.

But beyond the retail options, there are also a handful of attractions worth checking out. There’s the IOI City Farm, a permanent indoor edutainment exhibition space with interactive family-friendly activities; a grand exhibition and convention centre fitted with state-of-the-art facilities (capacity of 2,000 or 3,000 guests, depending on type of event); and a world-class rooftop sports facility featuring 15 badminton courts and two covered futsal arenas.

Apart from that there is also Icescape, said to be the biggest ice-skating rink in the country, as confirmed by Malaysia Book of Records. Located on the first floor of the mall, the rink is 30m x 60m in size and perfect for leisure skating and ice hockey games.

If you’re looking for to relax after a day of shopping, head to The Symphony Walk, which has a stunning waterfront and al-fresco dining options. The highlight of The Symphony Walk are the dancing musical fountains and dazzling light shows, which take place a few times every weekday and weekends.

Pavilion Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur

Not to be mistaken with Pavilion KL, this new shopping mall offers a vibrant mix of well-known retail brands, as well as new local and international labels and outlets.

The huge mall spans across five retail floors with a total of 167,225sq m of space, and features a department store (Parkson), multi-brand stores like Harvey Norman Superstore, Iconcraft, Absolute Siam, Ecotopia, premium grocer The Food Merchant, and lifestyle store duluKINI, which sells Malaysian-inspired and Malaysian-made merchandise.

Pavilion Bukit Jalil’s year-end mall decoration was stunning last year. — FilepicPavilion Bukit Jalil’s year-end mall decoration was stunning last year. — Filepic

There’s also Bukit Jalil Tsutaya Books, the largest bookstore chain in Japan that’s famously known as “one of the world’s most beautiful book stores”. This is the company’s first outpost store in South-East Asia and is touted to have over 264,000 books, lifestyle merchandise and stationery items.

If you’re looking for something to do there other than shopping or dining, then you can check out Blue Ice skating rink. People of all ages can ice skate at this rink; there’s also a Skating Academy that you can enrol in if you’re interested in learning.

Lalaport BBCC, KL

Mitsui Shopping Park LaLaport BBCC (LaLaport BBCC) is another new mall in Malaysia that offers a rich, immersive experience for shoppers with six retail floors. It is expected to host 400 stores, which will be opened in stages.

Some of the stores worth checking out are BookXcess, Metrojaya, Natural Wonders, Nitori, Nerve Hunter, Ngam Ngam Neighbourhood and Toy World. There are also lots of dining options you can find here, like Yakiniku Sizzle, Dotour, TBS Food Heritage, Shin’Labo by James Won and MyRotee.

Currently, the mall has a free art exhibition by the popular Japanese art collective TeamLab. The exhibition, called Resonating Microcosms: Liquified Light Colour, Sunrise And Sunset, will be there until Nov 30. There are two artworks to check out: Resonating Microcosms and Resonating Trees, located at the mall’s Central Rooftop Garden on level four.

Lalaport BBC has 2,400 parking spots, and direct pedestrian connection to the Hang Tuah LRT and KL Monorail stations. It is a five-minute walk from the MRT Merdeka station (Sungai Buloh-Kajang line).

Lalaport BBCC in KL is currently hosting an interesting art exhibition by TeamLAB from Japan. — CHAN TAK KONG/The StarLalaport BBCC in KL is currently hosting an interesting art exhibition by TeamLAB from Japan. — CHAN TAK KONG/The Star

1Utama Shopping Centre, Selangor

This hugely popular mall began as a friendly neighbourhood shopping centre in 1995, and grew into the mega lifestyle and entertainment complex it is today. It has more than 700 retail stores, including anchor tenants like Aeon, Parkson, GSC and TGV.

Selangor’s latest arts and theatre space, PJ Performing Arts Centre (PJPac), is located within the premises, along with the newly-opened public skatepark.

The skatepark is part of the mall’s sports and recreation attraction, which also includes a surf centre (Flowrider), Asia’s biggest rock climbing gym (Camp5) and Windlab, the first indoor skydiving wind tunnel in Asia Pacific. If you want to take a break from shopping, check out Rollerwa, South Korea’s top indoor rollerskating rink, or have a bite at the many cafes or restaurants available.

1Utama usually has special events spread across the mall each weekend, too, so do check their website or social media pages for updates. With the MRT Bandar Utama station (Sungai Buloh-Kajang line) adjacent to the building, it is one of the most accessible malls in the Klang Valley.

1Utama Shopping Centre in Petaling Jaya holds interesting events almost every weekend. — Filepic1Utama Shopping Centre in Petaling Jaya holds interesting events almost every weekend. — Filepic

Queensbay Mall, Penang

Penang’s largest shopping mall is only a 15-minute drive from the airport (as well as from the Penang bridge), which is definitely convenient for travellers. There’s an extensive range of retail (with Aeon as its anchor tenant), restaurant and entertainment offerings here, but what makes it a great place to shop or just hang out, is the waterfront view. Located in Bayan Lepas, Queensbay Mall lies along the coast and faces Jerejak Island.

Those who need a break from shopping can watch a movie at GSC, or head to Mission-Q for a thrilling “escape room-style” game. If you have young children, take them to the Happy Wonderland arcade or the Sunset Garden Kiddie Ride.

Jonker Walk, Melaka

The Jonker Street Night Market is the highlight of Jonker Walk in Melaka, and it has been operating as a weekend night market (Friday to Sunday) for more than 20 years. It is usually one of the top things listed on the heritage city’s must-do activities or must-visit places.

There are lots of goodies sold at this night market, including local snacks, clothing, and souvenirs too. Look out for stalls that sell traditional handicrafts or goods, as they are sometimes handmade by local artisans, and therefore unique.

There is actually much to explore in the area, where it is surrounded by historical buildings and landmarks like the A’Famosa, Church of St Paul, Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum and Cheng Ho’s Cultural Museum.

Many of the city’s murals can also be seen within the Jonker Walk area. For a more exciting experience, consider taking a cruise along the Melaka river where you can see many other murals along a scenic route.

Gaya Street, Sabah

The Gaya Street Sunday Market (or simply referred to as Gaya Street by locals) in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, takes place every Sunday morning. More than just a regular morning market, Gaya Street offers an interesting mix of local crafts, antiques, souvenirs, snacks, seasonal fruits, plants, flowers and even pets.

Local families usually visit the market as a way to spend some quality time together, while visitors go to try a variety of food items, and just experience the culture and lifestyle of Sabahans.

The market, located on Gaya Street (hence the name) near the Sabah Tourism Board office, starts as early as 6am and ends at 1pm.


Participating malls for the Shop & Be Rewarded Campaign 2.0

Klang Valley

1. 1Utama Shopping Centre, Selangor

2. 3 Damansara, Selangor

3. Fahrenheit 88, Kuala Lumpur

4. Intermark Mall, KL

5. IOI City Mall, Putrajaya

6. IOI Mall Puchong, Selangor

7. IPC Shopping Centre, Selangor

8. Melawati Mall, KL

9. Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

10. Pavilion Bukit Jalil, KL

11. Plaza Low Yat, KL

12. Subang Parade, Selangor

13. Sungei Wang Plaza, KL

14. Sunway Putra Mall, KL

15. Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall, Selangor

16. Sunway Velocity Mall, KL

17. The Mines Shopping Mall, Selangor

18. Wangsa Walk Mall, KL

Northern & East Coast

1. 1st Avenue Penang

2. Central Square, Kedah

3. Gurney Plaza, Penang

4. Kompleks Bukit Jambul, Penang

5. Kulim Central, Kedah

6. Prangin Mall, Penang

7. Queensbay Mall, Penang

8. Sunway Carnival Mall, Penang

9. East Coast Mall, Pahang

10. First World Plaza, Pahang

11. Sky Avenue, Pahang

12. Awana SkyCentral, Pahang

Southern

1. IOI Mall Kulai, Johor

2. Mahkota Parade, Melaka

3. Paradigm Mall, Johor

4. Segamat Central, Johor

5. Wetex Parade, Johor

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