KOTA KINABALU, July 26 — A Sabah minister lauded the announcement by Putrajaya today exempting Malaysians from paying tourism tax at hotels, saying the move will encourage domestic tourism.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said tourism has been the country’s saviour during challenging economic periods and the country should avoid any barrier that would deter Malaysians from holidaying locally.
“This is great news for domestic tourism. It would surely encourage Malaysians to travel within their own country, and I must say we have better attractions than in many other countries in the world,” he said, when contacted for his response to the federal government’s announcement earlier today.
Masidi said that Malaysia’s tourism industry has proven to be resilient even during bad economic times, as people continued to travel, adjusting their destinations to domestic travel.
“For this reason alone we need to do more to encourage domestic travels.
“Currently two-thirds of tourists that come to Sabah are Malaysians. They are good spenders just like the foreign tourists. Travel barriers including unnecessary taxes should be abolished to encourage Malaysians to travel within their own country,” he said.
He said other countries, like Thailand for example, are taking or have taken steps to ease travel restrictions to entice tourists to visit their country, and the industry there continues to boom despite domestic hiccups because tourists find travelling to Thailand hassle free.
He also said that it was the government’s job to help tourism companies make a profit by making it easier for them to do their business, thus creating wealth and strengthening the national economy,” he said.
The tourism tax had come under criticism when federal Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz initially announced its implementation on July 1, and involve domestic tourists as well depending on the length of stay at a range of accommodation.
Sabah and Sarawak argued that the tax did not take into consideration their views and were hoping that the revenue would go to the states.
Nazri had announced in Parliament today that the tax would only be applied to foreign tourists, and the ministry will impose a RM10 flat rate for all hotels for foreign tourists and the Customs Department will handle the collection of tax.
Source : Malay Mail Online