KOTA KINABALU, Nov 13 — Sabah generates the second-most tourism income for the country and should be allowed to retain all the tourism tax it collects on behalf of Putrajaya, said an assemblyman.
Karanaan assemblyman and former state tourism, culture and environment minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the federal government should allocate all collections to the state to ensure the sector remains vibrant.
“The tourism tax collected from Sabah should be 100 per cent ours to develop the tourism industry properly,” said Masidi during his debate on the state budget at the state assembly here today.
“There’s no doubt that Sabah’s tourism industry is booming, but we are very sensitive to external factors that could turn on us at any time. We need to be prepared and the income from tourism tax can be used to back our industry,” he said.
Masidi said that the state received many visitors from China but urged the state to ensure its tourism operators moved up the value chain to keep up with global trends.
“High-end tourists have moved to other parts of the world now and we have the volume but not the spending power — that’s not good for us,” he said.
Masidi also suggested that the state shift focus on domestic tourists whom he said have similar spending power and was easier to reach with marketing efforts.
The tourism tax was implemented last year on September 1 and saw nearly RM40 million collected in three months. Sabah was the second highest earner at RM4.53 million after Kuala Lumpur, who contributed RM16.6 million.
On a separate matter, Masidi said Sabah should also get a share from Petronas’s RM30 billion one-off special dividend to Putrajaya as some 50 per cent of the oil production in the country comes from Sabah.