Tourism tax to be enforced from Sept 1

nazri-tourism-taxPETALING JAYA: The tourism tax will be officially enforced from Sept 1, said Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz, Star Online reported.

Malaysians and permanent residents would be exempted from paying the tax.

Foreign tourists will be charged a flat rate of RM10 per room per night for all types of hotel rooms.

The tax will not apply to homestays and kampung stays registered with the ministry and premises with fewer than four rooms.

The government expects to collect about RM210 million in tourism tax annually.

Nazri said 3,200 providers of accommodation had registered with the finance ministry for the tourism tax.

The government initially proposed to tax both foreigners and Malaysians at the following rates: RM2.50 for non-rated hotels and RM5, RM10, RM15 and RM20 for two-star, three-star, four-star and five-star hotels respectively.

The plan was amended following opposition from hoteliers and others in the tourism industry.

In KOTA KINABALU, Zam Yusa reports that the Sabah government is to send a memorandum to Prime Minister Najib Razak to postpone the tourism tax to March next year.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun said the memorandum was prepared after talks with his Sarawak counterpart on July 4.

“From the meeting, a joint memorandum on the stand taken by the Sabah and Sarawak governments was signed.

“It will be submitted by the respective ministers to the prime minister, who is also the finance minister, as the tourism tax is under the purview of the federal finance ministry,” he said when answering questions in the state assembly today.

He said the meeting with the Sarawak officials was also attended by the attorney-generals of both states and representatives of Malaysia Hotels Association and Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents.

“Among the things agreed to in the memorandum is a request to delay the implementation of the Tourism Tax Act 2017 until March 31, 2018.

“This is because our tour operators are bound by their contracts which will only expire and will be renewed in March next year.”

He said if the tax was enforced now, it would burden the tour operators as they would have to pay the tax.

Masidi also said the memorandum would urge the federal tourism minister to keep his promise of sharing the tourism tax revenue among the three territories of Sabah, Sarawak and the peninsula.

“We will make sure Sabah will not be at the losing end when the tax is implemented.

“Sabah and Sarawak have their own tourism boards which work hard to promote the states. We need more funds to meet our promotional costs.”

Masidi dismissed claims that tour bookings from China had been cancelled due to the introduction of the tourism tax.

“What you’ve heard is only a rumour. It is not true.

“Records show our bookings from now until September are almost full,” said Masidi to a supplementary question from opposition leader Lajim Ukin (PHRS-Klias).

A recent news report claimed some 3,000 tourists from China had cancelled their trips to Sabah as they would have to pay an extra RM100,000 for the tax.

It was also reported that tourists from China and Korea had cancelled their trips after they were intimidated by news of a protest at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport in July against alleged unlicensed foreign tourist guides.