Postpone tourism tax to next year, says Sarawak CM

Abang-Johari-OpengPETALING JAYA: Sarawak wants the federal government to postpone the implementation of the tourism tax until next year.

In a Borneo Post report, Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said this was because many local tour agents and hotels have already made and paid forward bookings for their packages for early next year.

“Give us time till early next year. Then we can implement the tourism tax,” he was quoted as saying at a Hari Raya gathering in Samarahan on Wednesday.

The tourism tax was originally scheduled to come into effect on July 1. However, it was postponed after opposition by tourism industry players as well as the Sarawak and Sabah state governments.

In a report in Sin Chew Daily, Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz said the implementation of the tourism tax had been postponed to Aug 1 as some systems were not yet in place.

The tourism tax will see local and international tourists having to pay a levy to operators of registered accommodation premises.

The tax per room per night 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.

Malaysians will be exempted from paying the tourism tax when they stay in hotels rated three stars and below.

Abang Johari added that the collection from the tax must be fairly distributed to Sarawak.

This was in line with what Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah had said in June.

Karim said then that the state government had no choice but to accept the implementation of the tourism tax as it had been passed in Parliament.

“We want our share from the tourism tax collection to go straight to the state government and not be channelled through other agencies or any other means,” he added.