Hornbill Unleashed

June 13, 2017

Sarawak tourism tax could hurt industry, hotel association says

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:01 AM

Teo added that besides affecting tourist arrivals, the tourism tax could spell bad business for licensed hotel operators. — Picture courtesy of WikipediaThe federal govement should consider reviewing its decision to implement tourism tax beginning July 1, as it can adversely affect tourist arrivals in Sarawak.

Malaysian Association Hotels (Sarawak chapter) honorary secretary-general John Teo Peng Yew said travelling to Sarawak was already expensive as compared to other tourism destinations such as Bali, Hong Kong and Taiwan, with travellers having to fork out RM1,145 for one way or RM2,000 for a return flight ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Sibu.

“But one can fly from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok return at only RM409, making it difficult to promote Sarawak due to such a high fare,” he told Bernama.

He said the air connectivity problem for Sarawak, especially the air fare must be solved first before the federal government could decide to proceed with the implementation of tourism tax.

Teo added that besides affecting tourist arrivals, the tourism tax could spell bad business for licensed hotel operators as many travellers expected to stay in unlicensed budget motels, inns and homestay in Sarawak to avoid paying tax.

“There are many of them (unlicensed budget motels, inns and homestays) operating in Sarawak, paying only residential rates for utilities.”

While for licensed hotels, Teo said the operators needed to pay all sorts of regulatory expense fees which led to higher costs of operation such as Goods and Services Tax, minimum wages and utilities bill.

For Sarawak, he noted, 90 per cent of hotel guests were Sarawakians who were into businesses within the state while there was only less than five per cent each from the foreigners and other states in the country.

He said that meant the tourism tax would be an additional financial burden for local guests compared to foreigners as the majority of hotel guests in Sarawak were from this country and not from foreign countries.

For Miri City, he said the declining oil prices since 2015 had affected hotel occupancy, with Miri hotel occupancy rate having been always above 73 per cent but for this year, up till March, the average occupancy rate had dropped 42 per cent.

Source : The Malay Mail Online by Bernama



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