PETALING JAYA: The Malaysia Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA) has praised the government for thinking about exempting hotels rated three stars and below from the tourism tax.
MyBHA president PK Leong said it was “a one-step improvement over the old proposal”.
Alternatively, he suggested that the government consider taxing only foreign tourists, and not locals.
Today, Treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah was reported as saying that locals staying at hotels rated three stars and below might be exempted from the new tourism tax.
He said the government was still studying the details and would make an announcement soon.
Leong said he understood the logic in imposing the tax on locals able to afford four-star or even more expensive hotels, but added that not many locals stayed at such hotels.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president SM Mohamed Idris shared the same sentiments as Leong, saying all Malaysians should be exempted from the tourism tax.
“If foreign tourists get taxed, I’ll understand because they are coming into our country and using our resources.
“But if you are encouraging local tourism, why should we pay so much?” Idris told FMT.
He said if Malaysian tourists were to go to a foreign country, Malaysia would sustain a loss because the money would be spent outside the country.
“So, if we are going to spend our money in this country, why pay the tourism tax?”
Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Aziz recently said the new tax would be enforced as scheduled on July 1.
He said gazetting of the tourism tax was automatic and in accordance with the country’s procedures after the law was approved by Parliament.
The Padang Rengas MP added that the tax was applicable to all registered hotels and inns.
The tourism tax is fixed and charged on a per-room, per-night basis.
The tax is RM2.50 for non-rated hotels, RM5 for two-star, RM10 for three-star, RM15 for four-star and RM20 for five-star hotels.
When winding up the debate on the Tourism Tax Bill in the Dewan Rakyat on April 6, Nazri said the tax would bring in RM654.62 million if there was 60% occupancy rate at the 11 million hotel rooms in the country.