The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) has intensified calls for the Tourism Tax (TTx) to be abolished as it is counterproductive to tourists.
Matta president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the association had objected and expressed concern to the Tourism Ministry “from day one”. TTx which came into effect on Sept 1 last year charges a flat rate of RM10 per room night on foreigners staying in hotels or registered private accommodation.
The TTx, according to Tan, would have impacted the tourism industry. He said this is particularly true for price sensitive tourists as well as long-haul travellers who spend longer durations in the country.
“Malaysia’s tourism sector is trailing behind neighbouring countries like Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines,” he said.
Despite positive tourist arrivals growth in the region, Tan pointed out that Malaysia’s visitor arrivals have suffered last year.
“The tourist arrivals for Asean countries have recorded positive growth in 2017, with 7.8% increase for Thailand, 6.2% for Singapore and 11% for Philippines. Whereas visitor arrivals to Malaysia dropped by 3% with 25.95 million tourists in 2017, compared to 26.76 million in 2016,” he said.
Tan added that putting up more barriers may deter tourists from choosing Malaysia as a preferred holiday destination. “Without the TTx, foreigners would be delighted to come to our country, stay longer and spend more freely,” he said, adding that Matta is open for discussions with the relevant ministries.
In an interview with Star2, Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) president Sam Cheah Swee Hee said TTx put hoteliers in the awkward position of being “tax collectors".
Meanwhile, Malaysia Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) president Uzaidi Udanis said the tax would be part of a sustainable plan to further develop the country’s tourism scene.
Matta’s calls for the removal of TTx comes at the heels of the government’s announcement for zero-rated Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation on June 1.