SST not an issue for Sarawak tourism

Minister believes people would still travel irrespective of the tax regime

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The Sales and Services Tax (SST) will not have an adverse impact on tourist arrivals into Sarawak, according to the State Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Ministry.

“I am not too worried about the move as I am certain of the arrivals of tourists regardless,” its Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (picture) told reporters during the Business Events Tribal Meet 2018 held in Kuching last Friday. He believes people would still travel irrespective of the tax regime.

“There may be some increase in prices of goods and services, but when people come for holidays, they wouldn’t be bothered by that,” Abdul Karim said.

Sarawak registered 4.86 million tourist arrivals in 2017; and for this year, up to June 2018, there has been an increase of about 16% year-on-year compared to the corresponding period last year.

“That is only from China and Singapore, so the numbers are only going to get higher,” he said.

Abdul Karim stated that the ministry is targeting a total of 5.2 million visitors for the whole of this year.

“Tourism is an upcoming economic sector which the Sarawak state government is training its focus and emphasis on.

“In 2017, Sarawak recorded 4.86 million visitor arrivals with a total spending of RM8.59 billion that accounted for 7.9% of its gross domestic product,” he said.

Tourist arrivals from Asean countries accounted for 48.98%, or 2.38 million arrivals, in 2017.

In terms of Sarawak’s business events industry, the state has accumulated more than RM645 million worth of economic value from the 750 events organised.

“Business events have contributed a greater impact in building our nation.

“The transfer of knowledge from experts to local champions, trade opportunities, expansion of global alliance; these are just some legacies of business events, which permeates so many sectors — medicine, education, technology, science and other advanced industries,” the minister said.

The total economic value brought was equivalent by 286,000 delegates comprising 958,000 delegate days.

For this year alone, the minister said Sarawak’s progress is right on track, having already attracted 30 business events year-to-date.

“This amounts to RM34.6 million in direct delegate expenditure, welcoming close to 10,000 delegates who will be spending 34,000 delegate days in Sarawak,” he added.

On the newly-elected government, Abdul Karim hopes more importance is placed on East Malaysia and its growth aspects, especially to further expand the tourism sector.

“We hope for more collaboration from the federal government and (for them to) think of us (Sarawak) as one.

“Fortunately, the current tourism, arts and culture minister himself is from the Borneo, so he would understand our aspiration,” Abdul Karim added.