PETALING JAYA: The tourism and culture ministry allegedly expedited the implementation of the tourism tax in a bid to overcome the RM250 million deficit incurred by the Tourism Board.
Quoting sources, China Press reported that the Tourism Board had not only failed to manage their finances, but did not carry out proper planning, especially when it came to promoting tourism in countries like China and Japan.
This had been going on for the past two years, it said.
Describing the board’s spending like a running tap, the source said the federal government was unwilling to foot the RM250 million bill.
The source also said many of the tourism programmes were organised on an ad-hoc basis, which not only required a large sum of money but was excluded from the annual budget.
“The Tourism Board may look grand from the outside. But inside, it is ’empty’ and they owe money to a lot of suppliers,” the source was quoted as saying.
China Press also reported that the Tourism Board had attempted to seek help from the finance ministry, but was turned down.
It is believed that the tourism ministry had no other option but to push through the tourism tax without consulting industry players, following the finance ministry’s refusal to come to its aid.
The tourism tax will see local and international tourists paying a levy to operators of accommodation premises. It will come into effect on July 1.
The tax for non-rated hotels will be RM2.50, while the tax for two-star hotels will be RM5; three-star, RM10; four-star, RM15; and five-star, RM20.
The Chinese daily also reported that the rates would be adjusted yet again, which will see local and foreign tourists paying different rates.
The revision will also see hotels which carry a four-star rating and below exempted from the tax, China Press reported.
The move to implement the tourism tax recently sparked a dispute between Barisan Nasional ministers.
Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah called the new tourism tax a glaring example of the federal government imposing tax laws in Sarawak without consulting the state.
Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz retaliated by telling Karim to watch his mouth before making statements against the federal government. He also accused Karim of being “inexperienced”, “ignorant” and “a gangster”.
The comments drew condemnation from Sarawak and Sabah politicians on both sides of the political divide.
FMT have tried to contact the tourism minister Nazri Aziz and are waiting for his comments.