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AROUND this time of the year last year, Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir announced plans to steer Malaysia towards becoming a world-renowned shopping haven by December 2003.
He expressed the hope that by the targeted date, set by the National Sales Carnival Steering Committee, Malaysia would join the ranks of shopping-based tourist destinations like Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.
Judging from the results of a survey on Foreign Tourists Expenditure for the year 2000 carried out by Tourism Malaysia, Abdul Kadir's hopes for the country's tourism industry might just come true.
The survey found that tourists spent RM4 billion on shopping alone last year compared to RM2.7 billion the year before, a significant increase of 47 per cent.
But the responsibility of making the country a major shopping destination lies not just on the shoulders of the Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry.
Time and again, Abdul Kadir has called on both the public and private sectors to come together in support of the vision.
Therefore, when Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the Government would take steps to cut red-tape to make Malaysia the choice shopping destination earlier this year, the news was greeted …