Thursday, 22 June 2017

(The Star) Govt urged to reconsider taxing on low-occupancy hotels

SIBU: The Federal Government has been urged to conduct a proper survey before implementing tourism tax on hotel accommodation.

Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association chairman Johnny Wong said a study on the move was necessary as it was not a one-size-fit-all bill.

The Government planned to impose the tourism tax on hotel accommodation at the rates of between RM2.50 and RM20 per room per night effective July 1

“This tax is only applicable to places with high occupancy rates,” he said.

Johnny gave an example of towns in the central region of Sarawak, including Sibu, Mukah, Bintangor, Kapit, Sarikei and Kanowit where hotel operators were struggling to survive following fewer tourist arrivals.

“Even during Visit Sibu Year 2017, there are only a few tourists here.

“I saw only two Mat Salleh yesterday.

“During the last six months, you can hardly find five or six tourists in this town. So how can we collect tourism tax?” he asked.

Wong said the implementation of tourism tax would adversely affect local travellers as they formed the bulk of the hotel guests.

“With the tourism tax, local travellers who stay at budget hotel will have to pay tourism tax. This will be an extra burden for them,” he said.

Wong said hotel operators were not against the Government’s tax plan but hoped it would not become a burden burden to the people.

He expressed concern that the implementation of the tax would result in the mushrooming of cheap accommodation such as unlicensed room-for-rent.

Separately, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg on Tuesday said that the official decision on the tax would be announced after the state Cabinet meeting today.