SIBU: Tourists, despite having to pay more for their accommodation still considers Malaysia, Sarawak in particular, their favourite destination in the Asean region.
“Malaysia, or Sarawak for that matter, is blessed with myriads of tourism products and remains among the cheapest tourist destinations in the region,” said Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Sarawak chapter’s liaison officer for Sibu, Roy Ting.
It was augmented with quality tourism players and products, thus boosting tourists’ confidence and satisfaction, he added.
“As such, the presence of these feel good or ‘Wow’ factors will offset tourists’ concern over costlier rooms,” Ting said.
He asserted that since the benefits far outweighed the cost, the minimal hike in room rates would not turn tourists away from Malaysia or Sarawak.
“Furthermore, tourists are prepared to spend whenever they travel.
The way I see it, domestic tourism will continue to grow next year,” Ting told The Borneo Post yesterday.
He was asked to respond to the call of Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association chairman Johnny Wong Sie Lee on hotels affected by the increase in service tax to up their room rates.
Wong had also been quoted to have said budget hotels were expected to downsize their business next year to avoid the higher service tax and thereby, sustain their business.
Scaling down the argument to the local front, managing director of Equitorial Tours and Travel Sdn Bhd Robert Tan reckoned that backpackers and salesmen might feel the pinch as they usually stayed in budget hotels.
Conversely, tourists opted for three- to four-star hotels when visiting Sibu as their rates were still competitive compared to places such as Kuching and Kuala Lumpur, he said.
Citing an example, he pointed out that a room rate here (inclusive of breakfast) was about RM150 per night while that in KL could easily go beyond RM500.
Tan said whenever tourists contacted them for information, they (tourists) would enquire on medium to high end hotels.
He viewed the increase in service tax and the room rates as minimal, adding, “I don’t believe the latest development would in any way affect the local tourism industry.”
Seconding Ting’s view, he said accommodation and food in Sibu were among the cheapest in the state.
Sibu Tourism Task Group chairman Sim Kok Kee suggested that if hoteliers were worried about losing business, they could perhaps, absorb the difference, given the increase in service tax was very minimal or at one per cent.
Alternatively, he figured hotel guests would be able to accept the minimal increase in room rates and respected the government’s policy.
“If we work this out mathematically, the increase is RM1 for a RM100 room rate. Moreover, most budget hotels here are charging below RM100 per night.
“So you see, the increase in room rates is insignificant,” said Sim, who is also Sibu Resident.
He reiterated: “I presume they won’t mind if they are being charged with the new rates as the hike is minimal.”