Kota Kinabalu: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is concerned that many of its 3,200 members may have to pay out large sums upfront while waiting for exemption or refunds under the Tourism Tax that came into effect on Sept 1.
It is also not 100% certain that the Ministry of Finance would approve applications for exemption at this point in time.
"Many of our members have contracts with local hotels and overseas tour operators for hotel rooms until March 31,2018.
"We wish to find out if any of these hotels or overseas tour operators is willing to absorb the tax and if there are Matta members not applying for exemption or claiming refunds," its President Datuk Tan Kok Liang said.
In the meantime, Matta has sent out an online survey form to its members, up to 96% or 3,000 of whom are licensed for inbound tour operating business.
As many would be affected in various degrees by the implementation of the tax, the survey is intended to gather the actual impact on the inbound tour sector and the form of assistance needed to overcome teething problems.
Earlier, MATTA had notified all members via email on Aug 24 this year that tour operators who have committed contractual hotel rates in advance without Tourism Tax may apply for exemption.
Their applications are to be submitted to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, which will then be forwarded to Ministry of Finance for evaluation and approval on a case by case nbasis.
After feedback is collated, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Tourism and Culture will be provided with an industry-wide report on the impact and remedial actions that could be taken swiftly to alleviate the plight of affected tour operators.
"We are of the view that the intention of the tax is meant to benefit all stakeholders eventually and those initially affected by its introduction should be given speedy assistance by the Government," Tan stressed.