KUCHING: The Sarawak Tourism Federation (STF) supports the state government’s stand for the postponement of the implementation of the new Tourism Tax.
In a statement yesterday, the federation also called for mature and polite discourse and debate on the tax.
“The timing of the new Tourism Tax is not right. Hotels in Sarawak are currently experiencing low occupancy rates.
“For example, hotels in Miri are being impacted by the downtown in the oil and gas industry. Hotel occupancy rates in Kuching are also relatively low,” STF said.
The federation also noted that the state’s tourism industry had only recently recovered from a series of external events that resulted in a downturn in revenue for many tourism players over the period of 2013 to 2015.
“2016 was the first good year, albeit with reduced profitability after many years of lower arrivals from high yield markets.”
It added that hotel demand in Sarawak was largely domestic so Malaysians will pay the bulk of Tourism Tax revenue.
“This is another burden on the rakyat who are already facing increased costs and additional taxes.”
STF said postponing the Tourism Tax will give the government time to review the tax; better liaise and communicate with private sector tourism players; and give hotels the required time to re-configure their software and backend systems.
“The federal government’s communication and consultation efforts on this tax have been weak.
“Furthermore, the federal Minister of Tourism and Culture’s recent remarks have not helped matters,” it said, adding that more needs to be done to explain this tax.
“More details should also be provided on the distribution of Tourism Tax revenue to the states.”