Tuesday, 8 August 2017

(The Star) Decision on tourism tax well received

Perak folk are heaving a sigh of relief over the news that they will be exempted from paying for tourism tax at hotels.

Only foreign tourists will be charged a flat rate of RM10 per night and per room for all types of hotels and accommodation.

The initial proposal for the tax would have seen locals only exempted from paying the tax if they stayed at hotels rated three stars and below, while foreigners were to be charged between RM2.50 and RM20 per night depending on the hotel’s rating.

The new decision announced by Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz was received well by event manager S. Siva Prasad, 30, who said it will ease some worries among Malaysians and now they can travel without worrying about the tax.

Prasad, who frequently travels and stays in hotels, said it is the best move for the people involved in the tourism industry.

“I think some operators were not prepared for it. I know some friends in the hotel business who feared losing customers.

“As someone who travels often, I was not looking forward to this tax. It may look a paltry sum, but when you add it up, you realise that is a lot of money.

“I am glad that the Tourism Ministry announced that locals are exempted from the tax. This helps boost tourism in a way,” he said.

Last year, the Statistics Department said Malaysians made 253.9 million trips to local destinations, spending RM74.8bil.

In comparison, there were 26.8 million foreign tourist arrivals last year, bringing in receipts of RM82.1bil.

A foreign tourist, who only wanted to be known as Ruslan said he did not mind paying RM10 for the tax when it is implemented because it is equivalent to just US$2.33.

“Normally when I travel, my calculations are based on US dollars. When I do so, it feels that whatever service that I pay here is affordable.

“I can afford an extra RM10 a night, it should not be a problem. But with that money, I hope services in hotels will be good too.

“At the moment, they all look good and maybe with tax, they can make it even better,” said Ruslan, who hails from South Africa.

Calling it a “wise” move, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said Nazri made the decision after consulting with tourism agencies and stakeholders.

“To me, it is the best solution and he made a good move. It is a step to ensure that domestic travel will improve.

“It will also benefit Visit Perak Year 2017 and I would like to thank Nazri for making such a decision,” Zambry said.

Perak Tourism Association president Mohd Odzman Abdul Kadir said it was unfortunate that foreign tourists would be subjected to the tax. He said hotels must now work to justity the charges by ensuring their services offered value for money.

“They must ensure the quality of the food and rooms are good. There is no reason for them to be complacent. Tourists are like us, they want the best too. If they are happy with the service, they will surely pay for it.

“Like I said before, people will get used to it once it is implemented. Tourists will still flock to Perak,” Mohd Odzman said.

“Nowadays, local tourists are very choosy and they do not mind paying for expensive rooms because of the service.

“People these days look for quality and even if it costs more, they do not mind forking out the money because they want to feel comfortable and have an enjoyable stay.

“The government wants operators and hoteliers to improve their services for the well-being of our tourism industry.”

When asked when the tax would be implemented, sources from Tourism Perak said they had not received any directive from the Tourism Ministry yet and would wait for their official information once everything has been finalised.