The Starhill Gallery mall in Kuala Lumpur. It was here that the Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival was inaugurated on June 16
A shopping mall in Chinatown
A shopper in Chinatown
Malaysia is on a roll. The excitement of the nation turning 50 is palpable: malls and food courts are overflowing with tourists. The “Visit Malaysia Year 2007” campaign that kicked off in January has been such a success that the government is embarking on a year-long ‘One Golden Celebration’ from Independence Day, August 31, this year.
The results are showing. Tourism is Malaysia’s second-largest foreign exchange earner. Over 1.75 crore visitors netted an equivalent of about Rs 43 thousand crore last year, which saw a 6.8% growth in tourist arrivals and 13.5% increase in revenue. Besides, the sector provides over 13 lakh jobs of which about 5 lakh are direct.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said shopping activities alone accounted for 25.7% of the overall tourism revenue last year. Not surprisingly, the country is being positioned as the most favoured shopping destination. The Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival that was inaugurated last week will be open till September 2 and has lots of special discounts on offer. On July 6, special midnight sales will open at selected malls in KL, Johor Bahru and Penang.
The Golden Triangle comprising Jalan Imbi, Jalan Raja Chulan and Jalan Sultan Ismail areas is KL’s shopping paradise, with malls, nightspots, cafes and restaurants. A new trend in Malaysia is the hypermarket concept. Tesco from the UK and Carrefour from France are among the mammoth supermarkets providing customers wide ranging goods at competitive prices all under one roof.
WORLD BEYOND MALLS
Street shopping provides an amazing view of Malaysia. Shop, stop for a leisurely lunch, appreciate the fine architecture and shop again – all on the same street. Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in KL is a road flanked on both sides by pre-war buildings whose interesting facades house shops selling textiles, oriental art, antiques and curios. Jalan Petaling in KL’s Chinatown bustles with traders selling bags, clothes, watches etc. Customers need to bargain here.
Flea markets are another attraction. At the many indoor and outdoor stalls hundreds congregate to trade their wares. The atmosphere is vibrant and colourful and it’s a place for antiques, handmade crafts, jewellery and curios.
To enjoy the typical Malaysian way of life, one must drop in at the local farmer’s market or ‘pasar tani’. Held in the mornings, it is a hive of activity when farmers gather once a week with their fresh fruits, flowers, poultry, meat and other farm products. That’s where womenfolk do their early morning shopping and stock up for the whole week.
The Malaysian ‘pasar malam’, or the night market, stretches from 5 pm to 11 pm along an otherwise quiet stretch of street. Here, one can sample authentic Malaysian foods – Malay fish crackers, Chinese herbal drinks, Indian dosais, sweets and more.
SPECIAL OFFER FOR INDIANS
More Indians are traveling now: 2,79,046 Indians went to Malaysia in 2006 and 4 lakh are expected to visit this year, India is seventh in the list; Singapore is on top with 96,56,251 tourists from that country. Tourism minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor launched recently “Visit Malaysia Year Passport” exclusively for Indians. It contains a set of discount coupons for over 100 products and services that can be used at theme parks, food outlets and boutiques.
Over 1,500 Indian travel agents are giving away the coupons with holiday packages. In addition, beginning September this year, multiple entry visas at Rs 650 will be available from the Malaysian consulate in Mumbai. This visa is 50 per cent cheaper than the single-entry ones.