The Thai Shopping Centers Association (TSCA) today announced a new policy aimed at helping Thailand become the ASEAN region’s No. 1 in retail and tourism ahead of the launch of the AEC in 2015.
The TSCA aims to turn Thailand into a regional shopping hub that offers “the best lifestyle shopping experience in ASEAN” in a bid to push for Thailand to become a world-class tourist destination and a “shopping paradise”.
Ms. Wallaya Chirathivat, President of Thai Shopping Centers Association (TSCA), said: ‘The Thai Shopping Centers Association has announced a policy to support Thailand becoming a trade and tourism hub for ASEAN and the world as the TSCA sees AEC integration as a milestone that will help propel Thailand to become the center that connects between ASEAN member states.
Thanks to its ideal geographical location in the heart of ASEAN, Thailand can thrive as an economic hub and a foremost shopping and tourist destination in the region. Members of the TSCA, including operators of shopping malls and related businesses, have therefore joined forces to help Thailand become a top destination, in line with the association’s vision to support the country to become a retail and tourism hub of the ASEAN region and the world. The TSCA has a great understanding of how much tourism contributes to the country’s GDP and also sees the retail business as a crucial force driving the development of the country and the betterment of Thai society. Development projects by the retail development industry have contributed to the country in many ways including GDP growth, community development, job creation and adding value through investments.’
The TSCA members who are operators of shopping centers have plans to invest a substantial amount in new mega projects from 2014-2016. These planned mega projects are positioned to be globally recognized and will be located in various areas including renowned shopping streets and downtown, paving the way for the city to become a fully-fledged shopping destination for tourists. This ultimate shopping destination will cover all major areas including Pathumwan, MBK Shopping Center, Siam Discovery, Siam Center, Siam Paragon, Ratchaprasong, CentralWorld, Platinum Fashion Mall, Chidlom, Central Chidlom and Central Embassy. It will also include areas like Sukhumvit Road and Prompong. We aim to develop new projects in these areas and turn these shopping streets into the ultimate shopping destination of Asia – on the same scale as the world’s foremost shopping destinations like the Avenue des Champs-Elysée in France, Fifth Avenue in New York City, Shinjuku district in Japan and Singapore’s Orchard Road.
‘Moreover, we will also develop new shopping hubs in Thailand. One of the planned mega projects, CentralWestGate, is located in the Bang Yai area and spans over 500,000 square meters. The CentralWestGate project will become the talk of the town in Asia, just in time for the AEC launch in 2015. CentralWestGate is being positioned as Asia’s best prototype of a “Super Regional Mall”. Another area in Bangkok that will become a new shopping hub is the area alongside the Chao Phraya River, where you will find new projects like the giant ICONSIAM shopping mall. Other new projects include a new lifestyle shopping mall like CentralFestival East Ville, a new retail project by CDC and Siam Future, and EmQuartier. Some existing projects will be expanded, with more space and lifestyle offerings added. The planned expansion projects include SPELL and development projects by Future Park, SEACON Square and Fashion Island. Following the expansions, these shopping centers will become magnets that attract consumers and the driving force that will help turn Bangkok into a trade hub for the region and into a city with great capability to attract tourists to Thailand. These efforts will pave the way for trade and tourism expansion after the AEC takes effect,’ added Wallaya.
The TSCA sees that the services and facilities provided by shopping malls in Thailand are of a high standard and can compete well with those offered in other countries. However, the competitiveness of Thailand as a tourist destination will be greatly enhanced if we can offer name brand and designer products at a more competitive price. Currently, Thailand’s import tariff on luxury goods is very high, but if the government could lower the tariff on these products, Thailand would be able to compete better with Singapore and Hong Kong in attracting international tourists who covet luxury goods. Thai people would also be able to purchase the luxury goods without having to travel abroad.
In addition, the TSCA hopes to increase the number of “quality” tourists in order to turn Thailand into the perfect shopping destination. Retailers are targeting customers belonging to the “New Asia Luxury” group. These customers – hailing from China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Russia, where the tax rates on goods are very high – have high purchasing power and an affinity for luxury goods. If Thailand can attract this group of tourists with luxury goods and name brand products priced lower than those found in their home countries, the country’s economy will be given a major boost by the growth in the retail and related industries. Also, Thai business operators are advised to “cooperate” and build partnerships that can help strengthen their businesses.
If the business operators can make appropriate adjustments and prepare for the changes brought on by AEC integration, their businesses should experience drastic growth. Once the AEC takes effect, the Thai government should consider encouraging business operators from different sectors to expand their businesses in other countries. After major retail developers start expanding their presence and developing new projects overseas, SME operators will follow in the footsteps of those retail developers, since SMEs cannot expand their business in other countries without the leadership of large-scale businesses. If the government can put in place a clear policy that will give sufficient support to Thailand’s retail industry, Thai retail operators’ competitiveness will be enhanced, which will ease the way for full liberalization of services. The TSCA wishes to act as a mouthpiece for retail stores to help convey their concerns and needs.