KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 ― Malaysians will not need to pay the Tourism Tax which will be implemented on August 1 as it will only apply to foreign tourists, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said today.
The Tourism and Culture minister said that foreign tourists will be charged a flat rate of RM10 per night and per room for all types of hotels and accommodation.
“We will impose a RM10 flat rate from five-star to zero-star hotels for foreign tourists, and Malaysians will be exempted from the tax across all classifications of hotels,” he said in Parliament this morning.
He was responding to a question from Anthony Loke (DAP ― Seremban) on plans to standardise the tourism tax rate and whether locals would be exempted from paying it.
“The tourism tax that is to be implemented soon will not have any major (negative) impact on tourist inflows considering the ringgit is low at the moment compared to the US or Singaporean currencies,” he said.
Nazri said that tourism sectors in countries that imposed tax on visitors actually recorded healthy growth.
“The tourism tax implemented in countries like Singapore in 1973, the United States in 1987, Thailand in 1992, Japan in 2002, Holland in 2007 and Italy in 2015 proved that in the long term it can contribute to the positive growth to the tourism sector,” Nazri said in his reply to Loke.
“Based on WTO (World Tourism Organisation) record the (tourism) performance of the respective countries have not been affected at all but instead got better due to their ability to finance improvements in facilities and infrastructure for their tourism sector,” he added.
According to Nazri, countries like Singapore, Thailand and Japan saw their tourist inflows increased 24 million to 29 million, 11 million to 13 million and 13 to 19 million respectively from 2014 to 2015.
The Tourism Tax, passed in Parliament earlier this year, was set to be collected from this month but later postponed to August 1.
Initially the charges have been set at between RM20 and a lowly RM2.50 a night, depending on the hotel rating.
The new tax drew criticism, primarily from budget hotel operators out of fear that it would push tourists towards rental platform operator Airbnb.
In response, the government then announced an exemption for Malaysians who stay at hotels rated three-stars and below.
Nazri said today the Attorney-General Chambers and the Royal Customs Department are in the final stage of preparing the last technical details of the tax collection system.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is scheduled to make the announcement soon, the minister added.