Malaysia to Impose Tourism Tax from July
Malaysia will begin imposing tourism tax from July onward and not in August as planned earlier.
According to Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz the money collected would be used to promote Malaysia overseas and refurbish tourism facilities.
“The tax is necessary as the ministry needs to find new sources of income to finance its activities after the government reduced its allocation following the decline of world oil prices,” he said.
An earlier announcement on the Royal Malaysian Customs Department’s website stated the tourism tax would kick in from Aug 1. The webpage with details on the tax has been taken down.
“About 75 per cent of hotel rooms are available in the Peninsular, while the remaining 25 per cent are in Sabah and Sarawak.
“Once we start collecting tourism tax, we will ensure that the revenue will be returned back to the states, including Sabah and Sarawak,” he said. Nazri said though the provision for tourism had been reduced, it did not mean tourism was not a priority for the government. He stressed that the tax was not something new as it had already been introduced in Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.
He also shot down a news report which claimed the implementation of the tax would be postponed.
“The gazette (on Tourism Tax) is automatic, in accordance with the country’s procedures, when it is approved by the parliament. If we want to say it has not been gazetted, that’s right, but it cannot prevent the will of our MPs who have unanimously approved to implement this tax, and it will be implemented,” he said.
The Tourism Tax Bill 2017 which was passed in the last Parliament sitting with a majority vote, among others, allows imposing tax rates of between RM2.50 and RM20 for overnight stays at registered hotels and inns.
The tax will be collected from all types of premises used as accommodation for tourists, such as registered hotels and inns.
Rates start from RM2.50 (S$0.80) a room each night at a non-rated accommodation to RM20 a room each night at a five-star accommodation.
Nazri also said previously, Malacca and Penang had collected a similar tax. “It was a non-issue then but when we decided to implement a similar tax, many people are against it.
“We have no choice but to start collecting tourism tax or we will have no money for promotions and to build tourism infrastructures,” he said.
Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (MTB) director-general Datuk Seri Mirza Mohd Taiyab, meanwhile reiterated that the implementation of the tourism tax is much needed to raise the promotional activities and publicity of Malaysia to bring in more tourists.
Describing the negative reactions on the tax as “exaggerated” and “baseless”, Mirza said the collection of tourism tax can amount to RM600 million a year, which can be used for launching comprehensive marketing programmes for the country.
He lamented that the tourism market for the first five months of this year has been soft.
“Hotel rates in Malaysia are among the most attractive. For domestic tourists, RM5 (tax) is an amount you can accept,” he added.