Sarawak hoteliers welcome review of tourism tax

By BERNAMA

The tourism tax that has been imposed since Sept 1, 2017, should be scrapped off as it deterred more foreign tourists from visiting Sarawak, said Malaysian Association of Hotels Sarawak Chapter honourary secretary general John Teo Peng Yew.

He said the tax has an adverse impact as far as the Sarawak tourism industry is concerned, particularly for the foreign tourists planning to visit Sarawak, as the existing cost of travelling to Sarawak is still expensive.

“Travelling to Sarawak is already so much more expensive than travelling to other tourist destinations like Bali, Bangkok, Hong Kong or Taiwan,” he told Bernama in Miri yesterday.

Teo said many travel agencies from overseas are complaining that the airfare flying into Sarawak is really too expensive. A flight ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Sibu might cost RM1,145 one-way, compared to a return flight ticket of only RM409 from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok.

“There is no way we can sell Sarawak due to such a high airfare, with the RM10 tourism tax, it will definitely scare away more tourists who are thinking of coming to Sarawak for a visit. We must solve the airfare problem first, before thinking of adding more burdens to tourists wanting to come to Sarawak,” he said.

In addition, he said 90% of hotel guests staying in hotels in Sarawak are mostly Sarawakians who are doing businesses within Sarawak itself.

“Only less than 5% are foreigners, another 5% from other states of Malaysia, and foreigners are mostly backpackers staying in budgeted homestays.

“As such, no matter how, the 10% tax on foreigners will not give much revenue for the government, but will reduce the (number of) foreign tourists from coming into Sarawak,” he said.

He said there are also too many unlicenced budget motels/inns/homestays in Sarawak which do not collect the tourism tax, thus encouraging visitors not to stay at starrated licenced hotels.

On Tuesday, newly minted Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi was quoted as saying that the flat rate tax of RM10 per room per night on foreigners staying in hotels and registered private accomodations would be reviewed.