The Central Group of Companies will step up efforts to convince the government to reduce import taxes on luxury fashion products this year.
It wants to raise Thailand's profile as a shopping destination, which some experts say is on par with many of the world's leading retail venues.
"In terms of food, services, hotels and tourist and sport destinations, Hong Kong and Singapore do not have anything better than our country except for lower prices of fashion products," said Chart Chirathivat, managing director of Central Embassy.
High import taxes averaging 30% on fashion and luxury items have resulted in low spending by foreign tourists.
Central believes that a tax reduction would boost sales and tourism, as happened in Malaysia.
A survey of the local retail industry found tourists are interested in luxury tax rates.
Lowering luxury import taxes would be particularly useful in attracting luxury travellers with high spending power, Mr Chart said.
Although the state may loss some tax revenue, it could offset it from other channels including more corporate income tax from retailers and investors such as property developers and foreign businessmen, he said.
Related industries would also benefit from this economic expansion, particularly the hospitality, airline, tourism and food and beverage sectors, and would contribute more tax revenue to the government.
While local fashion brands are expensive, Thai consumers love to buy them abroad, with spending on clothes leaping 20% last year to reach 6.16 billion baht, reported the study.
If import taxes were cut, Mr Chart believes more than half of Thais buying items overseas would turn to Thai malls.
Central Retail Corporation is set to open another luxury shopping venue, Central Embassy, at Phloenchit intersection in Bangkok in December.
As shopping for fashion products and dining are very popular among visitors to shopping centres, the company has set up a subsidiary, Dining Zensation Co, to provide lifestyle food and beverages.
Mr Chart said the company will offer fine dining because Asians attach great importance to food.
Additionally, the company plans to develop a Civilize concept store covering 1,000 square metres on the fifth floor of Central Embassy. It will provide more than 20 Thai designer brands under one roof.
About the author
- Writer: Pitsinee Jitpleecheep
Position: Business Reporter