Saturday, 26 May 2018

(The Star) MATTA expects GST removal to boost local tourism

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) welcomes the Federal Government’s decision to have the Goods and Services Tax (GST) reduced from 6% to 0% effective June 1.

Its president, Datuk Tan Kok Liang, said this indirectly granted a “discount” on the cost of local tour and travel.

“The 0% GST is bound to promote spending by both locals and tourists, especially in terms of shopping as well as food and beverage, thus potentially increasing the price appeal of Malaysia as a travel destination.

“Domestic air tickets between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak will be more affordable and will augur well for domestic tourism,” he said.

Tan added that MATTA had always insisted that local air travel be exempted from GST as it was not a luxury but an essential service, especially for those travelling between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak.

Meanwhile, on Transport Minister Anthony Loke’s call to improve road safety, bring the MH370 episode to a close and scrap the Land Public Transport Commission, Tan said all three issues were closely related to tourism, as safety and security of tourists were paramount in any destination and equally important to local residents.

“We hope the minister will look into specific areas that could spur the growth or transformation of the air, marine, rail and road transportation sectors.

“MATTA would be happy to offer our proposals and we look forward to such meetings, as antiquated laws need to be modernised and current regulations implemented more effectively,” he stressed.

Tan said MATTA was also calling for the abolishment of the Tourism Tax (TTx), which came into effect on Sept 1, 2017.

The TTx imposes a flat rate of RM10 per room night on foreigners staying in hotels or registered private accommodation.

“We welcome tourists to have an enjoyable holiday experience and spend freely on accommodation, food and beverage, tourist attraction and tour excursion, but collecting tax from tourists would be counterproductive.

“MATTA had objected to and expressed concerns over the TTx from day one, as it would impact the tourism industry, particularly price-sensitive tourists and long-haul travellers who spend extended periods in the country,” he pointed out.

Tan added that Malaysia’s tourism sector was trailing behind its neighbours Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.

Although tourist arrivals to South-East Asian countries had recorded positive growth in 2017 – with a 7.8% increase for Thailand, Singapore (6.2%) and the Philippines (11%) – Malaysia saw a 3% drop with 25.95 million tourists in 2017 compared to 26.76 million in 2016.

“Putting up more barriers may deter tourists from choosing Malaysia as a preferred holiday destination.

“Without the TTx, foreigners would be delighted to come to our country, stay longer and spend more freely,” he added.