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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Putrajaya will introduce the tourism tax for foreign tourists starting next month and expects to collect as much as RM30 million this year, said Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.
The tourism and culture minister told reporters at the launch of Pasareka 2017 that the Customs Department has informed him that they are ready to begin collections as all mechanisms were now finalised.
"Annually, we expect to collect around RM200 million. Since we are starting at the end of the third quarter, we expect to generate around RM20 to RM30 million this year," said Nazri.
He said the revenue will be used to promote tourism and cultural activities nationwide, on top of his ministry’s existing allocations.
On Sarawak's demands for a 30-per cent share of the revenue instead of 10 per cent, Nazri said the tax is not charged on the number of tourists or tourist spots available, but rather on hotel rooms or other lettable rooms.
"The biggest contributor to this tax will be Penang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Pahang because they have the most hotel rooms or lettable rooms for foreigners.
“If that's how we want to structure it, these states should receive the most since Sabah and Sarawak only have around 16 per cent of total hotel rooms in the country," he said.
He further explained that each state will receive the same 10 per cent share, while the rest will be used to further generate tourism and promotional activities.
Nazri said he will meet Sabah's Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun to discuss how he can allocate some of the funds to help promote the state's tourism.
He also has plans to use the tax revenue to bring more local cultural groups abroad to showcase Malaysia's diverse and rich cultural heritage.
"Tourism and culture cannot be apart. Nowadays we normally send dance and cultural troupes from Istana Budaya to showcase our culture overseas, but what about the other practitioners? What about the Orang Sungai, or Iban and Bidayuh who have their own rich culture? We can use this money to showcase them and attract more visitors to Malaysia," he said.
Touching on unregistered hoteliers, Nazri said his ministry was working to address this.