KUCHING, Aug 16 — Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Karim Rahman Hamzah has invited his federal counterpart, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, here to explain the tourism tax and states' share of the revenue.
He told the federal minister that Kuching was only a 90-minute flight from the peninsula and offered to greet him personally on arrival.
“There is no need for him to be afraid. I can welcome him at the Kuching International Airport and bring him to see our chief minister, Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg, and explain to him about the distribution of tourism tax,” Karim told reporters after chairing the State Sports Awards Committee meeting here.
Nazri yesterday told Sabah and Sarawak to contact him directly if they have misgivings about the new tax, rather than through the press.
Today, Karim said they were simply following Nazri's lead in the matter.
“We did not start it; we only commented on his statements,” he said, adding that it was the federal minister who first said the tourism tax collections would be equally shared by Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.
“Then he announced that the tourism tax collection would be shared equally by all the states,” Karim added, before saying Sarawak would maintain its demand for 30 per cent of the revenue.
He said the demand for a fair share was agreed to by Sarawak and Sabah in their joint memorandum to the federal government.
National news agency Bernama previously reported that Sarawak and Sabah were unhappy that each would only get a RM1 share for every RM10 collected for the new tax.
Starting September 1, foreign tourists must pay RM10 per room/night at hotels nationwide as a tourism tax that will be collected by the Customs Department.