KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — The federal government should explain the implementation of its new tourism tax that could subject patrons to multiple fees for the same rooms, said a Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners official.
The association’s executive director, Shaharuddin Mohamad Saaid, noted that aside from the new tax, places such as Penang, Melaka, Langkawi and Kota Baru already charge a similar tax for room stays, which could cause confusion.
“This is unfair for the states involved as consumers have to pay two taxes after this and the government has to explain,” he was quoted saying by local daily Sinar Harian.
The new tourism tax collected by the federal government is set to start this July, at a rate of between RM2.50 and RM20 for overnight stays at registered hotels and inns.
Shahruddin said there are currently 3,100 hotel operators registered with the Tourism and Culture Ministry, with 2,007 of these having achieved star ratings.
He urged the federal government to first resolve the matter of operators who use serviced apartments to provide accommodation before imposing the tourism tax, pointing out that they should be made to register with the government and face the same conditions.
These are classified as homestays, which are exempted from the new tax.
“What about the position of serviced apartment operators since the ministry said any hotel that has less than 10 rooms will not be subjected to the tax?” he asked, noting that such operators would then gain a pricing advantage over registered operators.
In a separate report by local daily Utusan Malaysia, Malaysian Association of Hotels president Cheah Swee Hee said the new tourism tax should only be imposed on foreigners, further suggesting that they should only be made to pay a fixed tax rate once as soon as they enter Malaysia and regardless of their length of stay.
“Besides that, the tourism tax is only imposed on any hotels registered with the ministry; what about unregistered hotels?
“Therefore, the best solution is to impose that tax only on foreign tourists because it will burden local tourists if they are subjected to the tax,” he was quoted saying.
Local daily Sin Chew also reported today that Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz has confirmed that his spat with several state ministers from Sabah and Sarawak over the tourism tax has ended.
“The problem is already resolved. The tourism tax that was disputed will also be enforced as scheduled on July 1,” he was quoted saying in the interview yesterday with the paper, adding that he will neither retract his remarks nor apologise as he was merely talking frankly without intention to offend anyone.