Departure tax should be deferred until after Visit Malaysia 2020, says Matta

Matta is apprehensive about how the departure tax will affect inbound tourism

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE departure tax, which is proposed to be implemented next month, should be deferred until at least after the Visit Truly Asia Malaysia 2020 campaign.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) honorary secretary general Nigel Wong said, while it is too early to tell how the levy might affect the industry’s inbound segment, it would be more prudent for it to be deferred.

“In general, Matta feels that the tax should be deferred until after the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign — at least,” he said at the Matta Fair press briefing yesterday.

He said Matta is also apprehensive about how the departure tax will affect inbound tourism.

In an earlier report, Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi has voiced his support for the implementation of the levy by next month, following his discussions with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

The departure levy is expected to add RM1 billion to the government’s coffers annually, while Motac forecasts earning RM21.5 billion from tourist receipts.

Meanwhile, the upcoming Matta Fair that will be held between Sept 6 and Sept 8, is expected to be the biggest — boasting 1,389 booths, an increase from 1,336 booths in the previous exhibition.

The exhibition, via the partnership with Kuala Lumpur (KL) Hop-on Hop-off, will also provide transportation services for the fair. The bus offers visitors three sightseeing tours and two special combo tours.

The bus’ special routes include Batu Caves, City of Digital Light and Putrajaya’s bridge night tours.

Elang Wah Holdings Sdn Bhd department of operations head Mohd Fazrudi Mohd Rohdzi said the new tour packages are offered to attract more locals to hop on the company’s buses.

“We want to set the locals’ mindset that our buses are not just for foreigners, but for everyone,” he said.

He added that during the Matta Fair, there will be a flat rate promotion of RM15 tickets for MyKad holders, while expatriates can buy tickets at the price of RM35 with an iKad.

Mohd Fazrudi said KL Hop-on Hop-off has targeted a higher record of local passengers. At the moment, the passengers are 90% foreigners and 10% locals.

“Currently, we are carrying about 500 persons per day and 90% of them are foreigners. We wish to market

KL Hop-on Hop-off as a bus that is also for locals. Hence, for a safer target, we are looking at 70% foreigners to 30% locals first, then we’ll see how to go from there,” he said.