Industry players unclear about new tourism tax

unnamed (4)PETALING JAYA: Tourism industry players say they still don’t have the full picture on the government’s proposed tourism tax and are seeking to discuss the matter with the relevant authorities.

Speaking to FMT on the newly-passed Tourism Tax Bill 2017, the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) said it was still unclear as to how the tax would be implemented.

The association’s president, Cheah Swee Hee said the authorities last briefed MAH on the tax in January.

“From what we were briefed, hotels are supposed to collect the tax for each room night. The rates would differ according to a hotel’s star rating and it applies to all hotel guests, be it foreigners or locals.”

It is understood that the tax for non-rated hotels will be RM2.50, while the tax for 2-star, 3-star, 4-star and 5-star hotels were set at RM5, RM10, RM15 and RM20, respectively.

Cheah also said that they were told that the tourism tax would also apply to those staying under property-letting service AirBnB, as well as unlicensed hotels.

“How will the government collect the tax from AirBnB and unlicensed hotels. If there are any unlicensed hotels, they should be closed in the first place,” he said, adding he was concerned that unlicensed hotels may collect the tax but not remit them to the government.

Cheah also voiced concern that the tax would push local and foreign tourists into seeking accommodation at places – such as AirBnB and unlicensed hotels – which weren’t regulated by the law, hence were competing on an uneven playing field.

“We are seeking to engage the government on our concerns related to this tax.

“We also have a few proposals, which we hope the government will consider, to ensure the tax is implemented fairly and that locals won’t be affected by it,” he said, adding they will be organising a press conference on the matter soon.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Hamzah Rahmat said they too haven’t been briefed on the finalised mechanism for the tax and hoped the government could provide more details.

“Our main concern is whether the tax will be applied to locals because locals already pay GST. If it is only applicable to foreigners, then I think it is fine,” he told FMT.

It was reported earlier today, that the Tourism Tax Bill 2017 was passed with a rousing majority at the Dewan Rakyat.

Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz said revenue from tourism tax would be in the region of RM654.62 million if the overall occupancy rate for the 11 million “room nights” in the country can achieve 60%.

The Tourism Tax Bill will allow the government to impose tourism tax levied on a tourist staying at any accommodation premises made available by an operator at the rate fixed by the minister in accordance with Section 8. It shall be the duty of a tourist to pay the tourism tax to the operator of the accommodation premises.

According to the MyTourismData Portal under Tourism Malaysia, as of 2015, there are 4,799 hotels and 304,721 rooms in the country, while travel fare aggregator website and travel metasearch engine, states that there are 8,696 vacation rentals – including apartments and homestays – and hotels in Malaysia.