Ministry backs departure levy

PETALING JAYA: The Tourism Ministry is backing the implementation of the departure levy next month despite calls from the industry to defer the tax until after Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said after discussions with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, he fully supported the implementation of the departure levy for the development of the country.

"I hope the industry players can understand the government's move is for the good of the country," he told The Star.

Mohamaddin had told Parliament in June that he wanted the levy to be deferred until after Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has been asking for a deferment, as they believe the levy will affect the number of visitors to the country and stifle the government's forecast results in conjunction with the programme.

"We are not for or against the levy. All we are asking is for it to be deferred," said MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.

While the departure levy is expected to earn the country RM1bil a year, he said the Tourism Ministry had forecast earning RM21.5bil from tourist receipts.

"Why do we want to implement it three months before Visit Malaysia Year? Why not do it after and get all the mechanics right. Let the stakeholders talk about it," he said.

He also questioned how the payments would be made - whether through airports or included in airfares.