Saturday, September 19

Hotel bookings cancelled


KOTA KINABALU: Tourism industry players from the accommodation sector are very worried about the implications the implementation of the Tourism Tax 2017 on them.

Sabah Hotel Association president Christopher Chan said that the problems that will come up as a result of the new tax law are very real and cannot be ignored.

Chan when contacted yesterday stressed that if the implementation of the law is imminent, then the government must give the industry players time to prepare and inform their clients.

“We seek a year deferment because the rate quoted to our clients is valid for a year,” he said adding that some hotels in Sabah are already experiencing cancellation of bookings when the clients were informed of the new tax.

“We appeal to the government to defer the implementation due to the legal impact it would have on hoteliers as rates quoted to their clients are valid for a year and cannot be changed until 31st March 2018.

“The other issue is that cancellation is already happening when clients are notified of the additional tax that will be imposed. Should our hotels be sued by our clients for loss of business, who is going to indemnify us? We cannot absorb the tax daily on room sales either,” he stressed.

According to Chan, hoteliers would also have additional expenses as it will need to reprogram its accounting system and train its personnel on the new tax system.

“The hotel will have to engage their IT specialist to reprogram the accounting system to enable it to add in the tourism tax element. It will cost thousands of ringgit per hotel not to mention the training cost to be undertaken for the staff. On top of that we will have to pay the six per cent GST too,” he lamented.

Then there is the matter of unlicensed room and board providers, Chan said and pointed out that the demand for these illegally operated accommodation will definitely increase because people do not want to pay the additional tax.

He added that SHA, Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Sabah Chapter, Malaysian Budget Hotels Association (MyBHA), Sabah Backpackers Association, Sabah Tourist Association and the representatives from the Sabah Budget Hotel Association recently paid a courtesy call on the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment’s Permanent Secretary Datu Rosmadi Datu Sulai.

During the meeting, they updated and presented him with their concern on the implications the proposed implementation of the Tourism Tax will have on the tourism industry, he said.

“We hope that these issues and minor ones will be resolved with the ministry before implementation through meetings and dialogue with the Customs Department. The Sabah state government can discuss these issues before making a final decision on the matter,” he stressed.