By LYDIA NATHAN
Local and foreign tourists are still lost over the tourism tax, despite the authorities’ decision to push back the levy implementation date to next month from the earlier proposed July 1.
The government had initially planned to impose the bed tax — ranging from RM2.50 to RM20 per night based on the hotel’s rated grading — early this month.
Uproars over its implementation, especially from the Sabah and Sarawak state governments, had derailed that plan. Now the tourism tax will be imposed by hotels on their guests from Aug 1.
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture had said that the tax will pay for “enhancing infrastructure and facilities, as well as tourism promotional activities and campaigns for the country”.
Tourists and stakeholders in the sector claimed that such a levy will have a negative impact on the economy.
Some states want the collected levy to be channelled back to the original state where the tax was collected. The government had set charges of RM2.50 for non-rated hotels, two-star (RM5), three-star (RM10), four-star (RM15) and five-star (RM20).
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture expects to collect RM654.62 million with a 60% occupancy rate from the over 11 million hotel rooms available in the country.
“I was aware of this new tax. I saw it in the paper, but didn’t know we would be charged too. I assumed it would be only for foreigners,” said a hotel guest at the Impiana KLCC Hotel who only wants to be known as Nadia.
Jennifer, a tourist from the UK, said she was curious as to why she had to pay more.
“It is unusual in the UK for a tourist to pay three different types of taxes. So, it’ll be interesting to see what each of them represent,” she told The Malaysian Reserve.
Meanwhile, Amy, 23, also from the UK, said she does not mind the paying the tax as long as the collected money goes to improving tourist sites.
“Everyone has been so friendly and nice to me, if this tax can help the people, then why not,” she said.
Hotel guests are already charged 10% for the service charge and 6% for the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Some states have already imposed a local tourist charge to hotel occupants, although the amount is minimal.
However, an employee at a five-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur does not see the levy as a burden to the guests at its premises.
“If people could afford to pay for a suite at the hotel, another RM20 would not make a difference.
“Tourists or businessmen who can afford a night here are surely able to pay that little extra,” she said.
Hotel operators have since aired their complaints over the bed tax collection mechanism. The authorities want all registered hotels to collect the levy from their customers, reconcile the collection and deliver the tax to the government every three months.
According to the Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners, such a mechanism will only add to their administrative costs — which will eventually be passed on to consumers.