KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) is sticking to its retail growth forecast for Malaysia at 4.5% this year in view of the influx of tourists, despite the challenging retail landscape and other retail groups revising retail growth projection downwards. Earlier this week, independent retail research firm Retail Group Malaysia (RGM) had revised its annual growth forecast downwards from 3.9% to 3.7% for the Malaysia retail industry in 2017, the second revision since end of last year on the back of lower purchasing power. Nonetheless, MRCA president Datuk Garry Chua emphasised that it is still maintaining its retail growth projection at 4.5%, driven by tourism. “I’m optimistic. I trust that the government is doing a lot to boost the economy. For the retail and franchising fraternity, one of the most important things is tourism. Hopefully the government doesn’t cut the budget (for tourism). With more budget, you can do more promotion overseas and bring in more tourists,” he told reporters at the MRCA’s Up Close & Personal with the Media 2017 event yesterday. He said Malaysia has tremendous potential in terms of tourism and tourist arrivals bring an instant multiplier effect to the economy, from transport, hotel, food to shopping. However, Chua opined that the implementation of the tourism tax is not expected to impact the retail industry. “RM10 (tourism tax) is a small thing. We don’t think it will affect us adversely,” he said. On the budget wishlist, Chua requested for government-friendly policies, including tax breaks and incentives for the retail industry, as well as some mechanism of support to boost online retail. Today MRCA has over 400 members who have expanded locally and internationally, with franchise and retail store operators covering more than 25,000 outlets throughout Malaysia, providing over 100,000 job opportunities to Malaysians.