KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians are exempted from paying tourism tax for all types of hotels and accommodation premises.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the tourism tax would instead only be imposed on foreign tourists staying at all types of accommodation premises, at the rate of RM10 per room per night.
He said the move made showed that the government was receptive to the voice of the people, especially the low and middle-income group, besides wanting to boost domestic tourism.
Mohamed Nazri was replying to a question from Loke Siew Fook (DAP-Seremban) on the latest status of the implementation of tourism tax, in the Dewan Rakyat, here, yesterday.
Previously, he had reportedly stated that only domestic tourists staying at four-star accommodation premises and above would have to pay tourism tax, while no such tax would be imposed for those of three-star and below.
Mohamed Nazri said the estimated annual tourism tax collection would be close to RM211 million based on the average occupancy rate.
“We expect the collection to increase when more tourist accommodation premises come forward to register, with the enforcement of the Tourism Tax Act.
“The ministry also plans to return RM1 for every RM10 in tax per room per night collected, to the state governments for the purpose of promoting tourism,” he said.
The minister said the tourism tax would not have a big impact on foreign tourist arrivals in the country as the exchange rate in Malaysian currency was lower compared with the US and Singapore dollars, and the Euro.
“This tax will be counted based on the number of night’s stay and the number of rooms used, and not on the number of persons staying. In fact, the hotel room rates in Malaysia are lower than in neighbouring countries,” he said.
On the tourism tax implementation date, Mohamed Nazri said it would be set after taking into account the Customs Department’s readiness to start the tax collection.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has welcome the exemption for Malaysians from Tourism Tax 2017.
The Borneo Post in Sabah reported that Matta president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said in a statement yesterday the exemption for all Malaysians would stabilise domestic tourism as well as a relief for essential travellers on business, medical, religious and education purposes.
Tan said Matta had expressed concerns on the Tourism Tax fee on Malaysians and it was glad that the government had acknowledged positively.
“We must acknowledge our appreciation to the minister of tourism. Reducing from RM 20 to Rm10 for five-star and four-star hotels will minimise adverse impact on the high end industry.
“However, we need to review the lower class category accommodation providers and budget hotels as the increase may be between five per cent to 30 per rcent of the room rate. Long stay budget travellers that are price sensitive may be affected,” he said.
According to him the tax will have minimum impact and with the extra funds spent on tourism infrastructure development, Malaysia will enhance its ranking as a preferred holiday destination.
“We hope the collection and implementation mechanism will soon be announced by the Royal Malaysian customs to ease uncertainty in the market, and the implementation date on 1 April 2018 would be an ideal scenario,” he said.