Tourism tax: Hoteliers still have to bear additional costs, says association rep

MIRI: The newly-enforced tourism tax has added to the burden faced by many hoteliers.

According to Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Sarawak Chapter honorary secretary general John Teo, hoteliers now need to fork up additional cost of at least RM5,000 to upgrade the hotel’s accounting system, as a result of the tax, which came into effect on Aug 1 this year.

“We (hoteliers) spent around RM20,000 to upgrade the hotel’s accounting system just two years ago.

“It (tourism tax) is a further burden for hoteliers, as we need to employ additional manpower just to make sure that the taxes, including the GST (Goods and Services Tax) would be accurately computed and punctually paid to the Customs Department,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday via phone.

Teo, who is also the general manager of Meritz Hotel and Bintang Megamall Miri, said since the first meeting between MAH Sarawak and Customs officials late July this year, there had been several changes with regard to tourism tax, especially on collection.

“Such changes are expected to continue throughout the six-month grace period (from Sept 1 this year) until the Customs Department could finalise on the whole tourism tax collection mechanism.

“There will be further updates and changes over the next six months – they will occur as and when necessary. So as far as the regulations on tourism tax are concerned, we (MAH Sarawak) would have to keep up with the latest directives from Customs – hopefully the mechanism for tourism tax collection would be gradually accepted by all parties,” he said.

Late July this year, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz told Parliament that the tourism tax would apply to all hotel categories and be charged per room per night, and to be imposed only on foreign tourists at a flat rate of RM10.

However, he said the tax would not be applicable for premises with five rooms or less, homestays and village stays.

Nazri also said the Royal Customs Department would be task with collecting the tax, and that hotel operators must deal directly with the department in this regard.

The minister was also quoted as saying that ‘it is compulsory for every hotel in Malaysia to be registered with his ministry’.