'Levy won't affect tourist arrivals'

KUALA LUMPUR: The government does not expect the proposed departure levy to have a significant impact on tourist arrivals.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said the tourism sector in other countries that had such levies did not suffer any setback.

"If we want tourists to visit us but we do not charge a levy, it will be a loss for our country. Money from such levies could be used to develop the country", he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) said the levy will affect the tourism industry, especially since the mechanism on its collection has not been determined.

"If the government were to make the private sector responsible for the collection of the levy, then it will cause problems, particularly for agencies and companies who have signed contracts with overseas buyers", its honourary secretary-general Nigel Wong said.

"The departure levy may have an effect on cost-conscious Malaysians travelling regionally, especially those with families".

Nigel said MATTA does not object to the tax but would like to stress that the industry should be given ample lead time to make the necessary adjustments.