Tourist expenditure on shopping took the top spot from accommodation for the first quarter of 2015, with an increase of 10.8% to RM4.9 billion against the same period last year. It constituted 28.1% of the total tourist receipts for the first quarter compared to accommodation which garnered a 26.3% share.
A total of 69.6% share of tourist expenditure this year was on accommodation, shopping, and food & beverages, compared to 68.5% for accommodation, shopping, and organised tours for the same period last year.
Accommodation and shopping remained as the two top components of tourist expenditure for the first quarter, constituting 54.4%. The growth in shopping expenditure was dominated by regional and medium-haul countries, namely Brunei (42%), Singapore (37.6%), Japan (37.6%), Thailand (34.5%), and Saudi Arabia (27.8%).
Based on the survey by Tourism Malaysia, shopping also remained as the second major activity engaged by tourists in Malaysia for the first quarter, which was 72.7%. The top five shopping areas for foreign tourists were Bukit Bintang (42.7%), George Town (17.0%), Kota Kinabalu (14.1%), Petaling Street (12.3%), and Johor Bahru (11.7%). Clothes/apparels constituted 49.6% of items purchased by tourists, followed by handicraft/souvenirs (45.5%), shoes (21.7%), cosmetic (16.4%), and chocolates (13.3%).
Besides tourist expenditure, the average per capita expenditure of foreign tourists also recorded growth. It increased by 3.5% to RM2,700.70 compared to RM2,609.10 in the first quarter of 2014.
The top three markets that registered the highest average per capita expenditure were Saudi Arabia (RM9,637.10), New Zealand (RM4,213.00), and Australia (RM4,133.50). In addition, four markets showed an increase of over 20% in average per capita expenditure, namely Japan (RM3,817.30; +34.3%), Thailand (RM1,994.30; +25.9%), Singapore (RM2,280.20; +22.6%); and Canada (RM3,486.60; +21.9%).
Meanwhile, the average length of stay (ALOS) of foreign tourists showed a hike of 1.7 nights to 6.7 nights compared to 5.0 nights for the same period last year. The three markets that recorded the highest ALOS were the Netherlands (11.7 nights), followed by the United Kingdom (11 nights), and Saudi Arabia (10.5 nights).
Factors that contributed to these positive performances included the favourable exchange rate, which was advantageous to foreign tourists and had encouraged them to spend more. Besides that, the drop in tourist arrivals for the first quarter had compelled hoteliers to offer more competitive rates to tourists. As a result, tourist expenditure on shopping was higher than accommodation and they stayed longer in the country.
Nevertheless, total tourist receipts recorded a decrease of RM1 billion or 5.4% against RM18.5 billion for the same period of 2014, reflecting the 8.6% drop in arrivals for the first quarter of 2015. The top three highest spending markets were Singapore (RM7.4 billion), Indonesia (RM1.8 billion), and China (RM1.3 billion).
The average per diem expenditure of foreign tourists for the first quarter was RM403.10, which is a drop of 22.8%, as a result of their longer stay in the country. Saudi Arabia charted the highest average per diem with RM917.80, followed by South Korea (RM898.40) and Singapore (RM877.00).