KUCHING: The federal Tourism and Culture Ministry must explain to Sarawak and Sabah why their share of the tourism tax collected from foreigners visiting Malaysia has been reduced to RM1 for every RM10 collected when originally the total collection was to be divided equally among Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah.
Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said he was taken aback by this sudden reduction.
“This (equal distribution among the three regions)was proposed by the federal Tourism and Culture Minister (Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz) himself and later by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
“Why suddenly reduced it to RM1 for every RM10 per room per night collected from each state?” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.
Nazri recently said that his ministry planned to return RM1 for every RM10 in tax per room per night collected to the state governments for the purpose of promoting tourism. Last month, Nazri stated that the revenue from the tax would be shared equally between Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.
Abdul Karim, who is Asajaya assemblyman, said he fully agreed with the statement by his counterpart from Sabah Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun for both Sarawak and Sabah to be given a more equitable share of the tourism tax. Masidi said both states had been carrying their own tourism promotion over the years at their own cost and hoped this would be taken into account in the division of this revenue from the tourism tax.
In concurring with Masidi, Abdul Karim said Sarawak and Sabah had been aggressively promoting their tourism packages overseas themselves, unlike the states in Peninsular Malaysia, where they were promoted by Tourism Malaysia.
“Since this tourism tax is meant for promotion of tourism, both Sarawak and Sabah should not be equated like the other states in Malaysia when it comes to the division of this tax,” Abdul Karim added.
Recently, Nazri reportedly said that Malaysians were exempted from paying the tourism tax for all types of hotels and accommodation premises.
He 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.
Nazri 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.”
Although the federal government is looking at imposing tourism tax on Aug 1, Sarawak state government wants the tourism tax to be waived until early next year because many of the local tour agents and hotels have made forward bookings and paid for their packages to early next year. -TheBorneoPost