KUALA LUMPUR: Following a recent news report of thousands of tourists from China cancelling their trips to Malaysia because they were unwilling to pay the new tourism tax, the Tourism and Culture Ministry is now promising “special incentives” to cushion the negative impact on inbound tour operators.
Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) president Uzaidi Udanis said today the minister Mohd Nazri Aziz gave the assurance at a meeting two days ago.
He said the meeting was also attended by the ministry’s senior officers and representatives of the Malaysia Tourism Council (MTC) and Malaysia Chinese Tourism Association (MCTA).
“Mita conveyed our concerns regarding contracted group tours which needed confirmation on the actual lodging cost.
“Datuk Nazri took note of the issue concerning previously contracted group tours, and assured that consideration and special incentives will be given to prevent any contract cancellations of group tours from overseas, as most of the contracts are valid until March 31, 2018,” Uzaidi said at a press conference.
He said the special incentives were to ensure tour groups did not cancel their reservations due to rising costs in accommodation.
Certain incentives had already been put in place by the ministry to help tour groups through MyCEB (Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau) and Tourism Malaysia, he added.
See Hua Daily News, the largest Chinese newspaper on Borneo island, reported last month that about 3,000 tourists from China were cancelling their trips to Malaysia due to the additional burden of the tourism tax.
According to the report, which quoted a tour agent who was a member of the Association of Inbound Tour Agencies, the tourists would have had to fork out an additional total RM100,000 to pay the tourism tax.
The group was said to have decided to visit Thailand instead.
The tourism tax, which is scheduled to come into force next month, 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.
Nazri had told the Dewan Rakyat in April that the tax would be able to bring in about RM654.62 million in revenue if there was a 60% occupancy rate at the more than 11 million “room nights” in the country.
He said the tax would be used to improve tourism facilities and promote Malaysia overseas.
However, due to widespread dissatisfaction over the imposition of the tax, Treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah said recently that locals checking into hotels rated three stars and below might be exempted from the tourism tax.
He said the government was studying the details and would make an announcement soon.