Penang to stick with its own tourism levy

limguaneng-penangGEORGE TOWN: Penang will stick with its own local government fee for tourist accommodation facilities despite a federal offer to stop the collection to make way for a single national tourism tax that will return part of the collections to the states.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who made this stand today, said he was surprised by the suggestion by Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz to impose a single tourism tax while asking the states to drop their individual versions.

“We beg to differ with the minister on the termination of the local government fee on hotel stays, as this was not raised during the debate (on the Tourism Tax Act) in Parliament,” Lim told reporters in Komtar.

The tourism tax is scheduled to come into force on July 1 with hotels being designated as the government’s collecting agents. The tax ranges from RM2.50 to RM20 per room night according to their star rating.

The Sun daily, in a report today, quoted Nazri as saying that states which had implemented their own charges for tourist accommodations would be asked to stop such collections once the federal tourism tax was enforced.

He said he would speak to the state governments concerned to allow the single tax system and avoid a duplication of charges which would be counter-productive in promoting tourism.

Penang, Langkawi and Melaka are among the state authorities which have levies for tourist accommodation.

In Penang, four and five-star hotel stays are charged RM3 per room night, and RM2 per room at three-star hotels and those rated lower. The RM2 charge also applies to dormitories, budget hotels, hostels and guest houses. The fee has been collected since 2014.

In Langkawi, Kedah, a RM9 surcharge is imposed per room night on all hotel stays. Melaka, meanwhile, has a heritage tax of RM2 per night regardless of the room type.

Lim said a percentage of the money collected from the national tourism tax should be given back to the respective states.

“I believe many will not feel the pinch with RM3 for hotel stays but RM20 is different,” he added, and suggested that the tourism tax be levied only on foreigners.

Earlier, Lim handed out annual Hari Raya aid valued at RM10,000 each to the police and armed forces.

Penang police chief Comm Chuah Ghee Lye and Sixth Brigade Royal Malaysian Armed Forces chief of staff Lt-Kol Mohd Yusoff Nor received the donations.