Scrap Tourism Tax of BN Govt: MATTA

KOTA KINABALU : The Tourism Tax (TTx) which came to effect in September, last year should be scrapped, the Malaysian Asssociation of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) said Tuesday. Its President Daluk Tan Kok Liang (pic) said charging a flare rate of RM10 per room night on foreign staying in hotels or registered private accommodation is counterproductive. "We welcome tourists to have an enjoyable holiday experience and spend freely on accommodation, food and beverage, tourist attractions and tour excursion, but collecting tax from tourists would be counterproductive," Tan claimed. He said the TTx which was initially planned for roll out in August, 2017 included Malaysians initially but was later excluded after a public uproar, as it was decided without proper engagement with tourism industry players.

"MATTA has objected and expressed concerns to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture on TTx from day one, as it would have impacted on the tourism industry, particularly price sensitive tourists as well as long-haul travellers who spend longer durations in the country."

Tan added, "Malaysia's tourism sector is trailing behind neighbouring countries Thailand, Singapore and Philippines.He said tourist arrivals for Asean countries have recorded positive growth in 2017, with 7.8pc increase for Thailand, 6.2pc for Singapore and 11pc for Philippines. Whereas visitor arrivals to Malaysia dropped by 3pc with 25.95 million tourists in 2017, compared to 26.76 million in 2016.

According to him, putting up more barriers may deter tourists from choosing Malaysia as a preferred holiday destination. Without the TTx, he said foreigners would be delighted to come to our country, stay longer and spend more freely.

"Furthermore, Tan stressed the amount of TTx that could be collected will only be a fraction of what the government could gain from other forms of taxes, which are less obvious compared to in-your-face TTx. "We urge the Ministry of Finance to review the current TTx rate and abolish it, as both hotel and tour operators have been affected by its introduction," MATTA stressed. "MATTA is ready to contribute to the discussions with the relevant Ministries in reviewing and abolishing the TTx," concluded Tan.