PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (Matta) is urging the Government to delay the rollout of the impending Tourism Tax (TTx), or at least parts of it.
While saying the association is behind the tax, its president Datuk Hamzah Rahmat said the Aug 1 implementation date may not be an ideal time.
The TTx will not only affect domestic tourists, but also Malaysians who have to travel for other purposes such as studies, medical treatments or family obligations.
"Those people who have to travel will have to travel, and they will be forced to pay for it. It doesn’t just affect tourists," he said on Wednesday.
Hamzah suggests the TTx be imposed on 4-star and 5-star hotels first, but be deferred on lower-rated hotels, hostels and accommodation premises to a later date.
“I’m not saying that this tax shouldn't be imposed at all, but now is not the time for it,” he said.
Hamzah added that domestic travel is currently picking up due to the high cost of overseas travel, and he was concerned that an additional tax would deter Malaysians from travelling domestically.
The Penang, Langkawi and Malacca state governments are already charging RM2 to RM9 depending on the type of hotel the guest is staying in.
Passed as part of the Tourism Tax Bill 2017, TTx will see local and international tourists paying a levy to the operators of accommodation premises.
The tax rate is fixed and charged on a per-room, per-night basis.
The rates are RM20 for five-star accommodations, RM10 for four-star accommodations, RM5 for one- to three-star accommodations, and RM2.50 for non-rated accommodations, including budget hotels.
Engineer Lim Chze Hong, 33, who travels twice a month for work, said the TTx would be an unnecessary burden for Malaysians and should only be imposed on foreign tourists.
"It is an extra burden on top of the funds we need to spend to travel outstation for work, regardless if the rooms are paid for by the company or not.
“If this is a ‘tourism tax’, then they should not impose the tax on anyone who books a room using their MyKad,” he said.
Meanwhile, 41-year-old writer Vivan Chong said that she wouldn't mind paying the tax if the revenue was used to develop the local tourism industry.
She however asked if there are solid plans in place regarding the funding.
"The rates are not a burden money-wise, but I think the real question is, who is this supposed to benefit in the first place and why are we being taxed for already contributing to the economy by travelling locally," she added.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had said that the tax revenue would be spent mainly on tourism and infrastructure development throughout the country.
He said the tax was necessary because the Government needed to mitigate uncertainties in the oil-and-gas industry, adding that the Government was expected to collect about RM800mil annually through the new tax.