The carrots are out, as Singapore and Thailand try to lure Malaysian shoppers away from our own great national sale.
Yes, the Great Singapore Sale (GSS) started last Friday and the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale (ATGS) is just around the corner. And as usual, both countries are offering great bargains and perks.
Despite the best efforts of the Tourism Ministry to brand the country a shopping paradise, more and more Malaysians are heading for Thailand and Singapore.
The Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) figures show that the number of Malaysians flying into Singapore for the GSS has gone up from just under 90,000 four years ago to nearly 105,000 last year.
The STB did not reveal the number of arrivals that went through the Causeway, the Second Link and Tanjung Belungkor.
Clearly, Singapore is not taking the competition from Thailand and the disadvantage of the strength of its currency against both the ringgit and the baht lightly.
STB’s "Half Price, Singapore Surprise" campaign is offering Malaysian visitors half-price entry into some of the republic’s top tourist spots, including Sentosa Island, Singapore Zoo and the Jurong Bird Park.
STB area director (southern and eastern Malaysia) Alfred Poon said the tourism board was hoping that many more Malaysians would be taking advantage of the offers that were available during this year’s GSS.
"This is probably the first time the entrance fees at tourist attractions have been slashed by half.
"This is a gesture on our part to make holidays in Singapore more affordable for Malaysians."
And, to whet our appetite for holidaying and shopping even more, Malaysians will also be able to eat chilli crabs, the republic’s signature dish, for free from June 29 till July 31.
All you need to do is pick up a voucher from the Singapore Visitor’s Centre at Changi Airport Terminals 1 or 2, or at Orchard Road.
According to figures from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) over the past three years the number of Malaysians heading north for the ATGS has gone up from about 220,000 to more than 277,000 last year.
"With our strong tourism promotions and the increasing strength of the ringgit over the baht, we expect the figure this year to hit 300,000 easily during ATGS," said TAT public relations adviser Somboon Cheanswaths.
Thailand also has the advantage of having a large number of land entry points from Malaysia, including Padang Besar, Bukit Kayu Hitam and Pengkalan Kubor.
The GSS will run till July 22, while the ATGS is on from June 16 to Aug 15.
The Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival starts on June 16 as well, but doesn’t end till Sept 2.
So, Malaysia does have a competitive edge because at 79 days, this is the longest mega sale ever.
And, with Visit Malaysia Year in full swing, the more than 20 million tourists expected will certainly want to take advantage of the sale.