Defer Tourism Tax on Domestic Tourists, says Matta

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has urged the government to delay the Tourism Tax on domestic tourists, which will be imposed from Aug 1.

Its vice-president (Inbound and Domestic) Datuk K.L. Tan said while introduction of the tax would help the industry grow in the long run, it would have an impact on Sabah and Sarawak that depended heavily on domestic tourism.

“We would also like to request for a temporary exemption for those who are necessity travellers such as those travelling on business, seeking medical treatment, or in search of education destinations.”

He said the tax was not new in developed countries, but Matta was hoping that the rate could be reviewed as it was quite high.

“The tax should maybe start just with five- and four-star hotels and later slowly worked towards the lower-star hotels. It should not be implemented as a blanket tax.”

The implementation was announced by the Customs Department on its website, where it called on operators of accommodation premises to register their businesses from July 1.

Regulated by the Finance Ministry and Customs Department, the tax will be imposed on tourists staying at privately-operated accommodations.

These include hostels, hotels, inns, boarding houses, rest houses and lodging houses.

The tax, however, is exempted on non-commercial accomodation premises operated by the government, or those regulated as “homestay” or “kampungstay” facilities under the Tourism and Culture Ministry.

Similarly, exemptions are given to premises run by religious institutions.

Tourist accommodations are those registered under subsection 31C (1) Tourism Industry Act 1992.

The tax will be implemented using a mechanism of cooperation between the government and the industry to enhance the tourism experience for tourists, according to the department.

“Tax returns will be used to develop the tourism industry, namely the enhancement of tourism infrastructure and facilities, tourism promotional activities and campaigns.

“The implementation of this tax is an effort to protect, preserve and conserve Mother Nature, culture and heritage for the benefit of the present and future generations,” the department said in the announcement

The tax rate is fixed at RM20 per room per night (five star), RM10 per room per night (four star), RM5 per room per night (one, two and three star), RM2.50 per room per night (one, two and three Orchid) and RM2.50 per room per night (non-rated accommodation premises).