Shopping Tourism constitutes one of the principal motivations for travelling for millions of tourists and a main driver for tourism and commercial development in countries and cities these days. The UNWTO recently published a global report on Shopping Tourism that discloses the status quo and effects as well as the potential of Shopping Tourism for countries and cities all over the world.
To give some examples, in Malaysia shopping represents the second largest tourism expenditure after accommodation and the importance of shopping for international visitors has been recognized since over twenty years. The government initiated the ‘Malaysia Mega Sales Carnival’, which takes place for about three months every year and promotes the country’s fashion industry and culture. Moreover, in New York the prime activity among all visitors is shopping and Barcelona, which is a synonym for shopping tourism these days, is home to a five kilometer long Shopping Street – the Barcelona Shopping Line- located in the same areas as the greatest tourism attractions of the city. Furthermore, Vienna, which is one of the top international shopping cities, attracts high-class visitors from Russia, Asia and the Arab countries and offers private shopping concepts. The employees of department stores respond to this trend by increasingly improving their language skills and intercultural competencies.
As Shopping Tourism is becoming increasingly popular, the majority of National Tourism Boards promote their cities as perfect shopping destinations and the Economist Intelligence Unit developed the ‘Globe Shopper Index’ to ascertain the competitiveness and ability of cities to attract international tourists for shopping. Moreover, the top tourism destinations all include the theme of shopping in their tourism campaigns and many malls and markets all over the world are on the list of must-sees.
A business model for shopping tourism exists as well, called value retail: luxury shopping villages sell universally known brands for less than 50% of the common retail price. A lot of attention is given to customer service, like valet parking, friendly welcome of every visitor and upscale customer support while the shopping experience in the villages is underlined with buildings of local design and trendy restaurants and cafés.
The increasing boom of global Shopping Tourism may also be explained by the huge range of shopping:
- Global stores of all sizes, small boutiques, local shops and souvenir shops
- Purchases of souvenirs, clothing from exclusive brands, country typical clothes and global brands
- City trips with purchases of a few souvenirs only and whole shopping days with shopping being an experience on its own, entertainment and total indulgence
However, the factors that influence the decision process of shopping guests need to be considered. To these count the number of shops and malls, its shopping hours and duration of seasonal sales, the likelihood of price negotiation, as well as the quality of accommodation, the international cuisine, events and public transportation of a destination.
Certainly the boom of Shopping Tourism comprises challenges. These include the maximization of benefits of all stakeholders in a tourism destination, which represents the main objective at the same time, the general barriers of the tourism industry as well as the UN Millennium Development Goals. The report by the UNWTO suggests the establishment of public-private partnerships of all stakeholders in a tourism destination in the following fields: accessibility, infrastructure, safety, cleanliness and attractive location of shopping areas, marketing and promotion, tourism value chain, research, regulation, and training and education for the employees in the tourism industry.
For further information about destination marketing, including holistic concepts, target group analysis and product development see our projects in the field of destination management and our blog article ‘Integration of a Factory Outlet Center in the context of regional tourism’. The article is about a project last year, in which we consulted the Factory Outlet Centre Ochtrup in the district Steinfurt on how to act as a multiplier for the whole region and animate shopping guests to become day or overnight visitors.
Read long version: Global Report on Shopping Tourism, UNWTO