Tourism tax: Best to start next year, says Sarawak minister

Abdul-Karim-tourismPETALING JAYA: The Sarawak and Sabah governments are looking to implement the tourism tax from next year, says Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

He said discussions were held with his Sabah counterpart and it was agreed that the Aug 1 start date announced by Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Aziz was not feasible, Borneo Post reported.

“There are still a number of questions to be answered such as how the taxes would be distributed to East Malaysia, and how the mechanism would work.

“We have to give due consideration to forward booking. We have come up with all these good packages, hoping for tourists to come. They have bought the promotion that we offered via Matta fair and so on. And now, we want to tax them? That’s not good,” Karim was quoted as saying.

He added that with the travel promotions ending by early next year, the tourism tax is best enforced then, with the blessing of Chief Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Karim also hoped for a positive outcome to all the discussions between the two states and with the federal government as well.

“Hopefully, we’ll have a good ending to all this, a win-win situation for all involved,” he was quoted as saying by the Sarawak-based daily.

He added that he had also met with Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi during the latter’s visit to Sarawak earlier this week.

The issue of tourism tax became a hot topic after the original announcement of its implementation received negative reaction all round, including from Karim.

Following the Sarawak state minister’s questioning of the move by the federal government, Nazri gave a sharp rebuke, saying Karim was inexperienced and should talk to him first before issuing such comments.

“We’re both Barisan Nasional ministers. You’re a new minister and still wet behind the ears whereas I’ve been a minister for years and years. Come and see me, don’t talk so much.

“Learn to be a minister before you open your mouth and remember that in politics you shouldn’t talk so big,” Nazri had said of Karim.