‘Tax on cigarettes will not affect tourism’

The duty-free zone at Stulang Laut international ferry terminal in Johor Baru. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

JOHOR BARU: Making cigarettes and tobacco products taxable goods at duty-free areas from next year will not impact the tourism industry and businesses in the state.

Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Low Kueck Shin said the duty-free zones in Johor did not cover a large area.

He added that fewer people had been visiting the Stulang Laut international ferry terminal, the most known duty-free zone for people to get tobacco products in the state, since the movement control order came into effect.

“Even if imposing tax does make a difference, it will only affect a small group of businesses, ” he said, noting that the other duty-free zone was Forest City.

Low added that a majority of the businesses at the ferry terminal had already shut down.

Malaysian Association of Hotels Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said the move would only affect people here if alcohol was taxed.

“Although there is a hotel at the duty-free zone in Stulang, the move will still have little to no effect on those going there for a visit.

“It will only have an impact if alcohol is being taxed instead of cigarettes, ” he said.

A check by StarMetro revealed that the shops selling duty-free goods in Stulang Laut, including tobacco and alcohol, were gloomy and quiet with only a few customers buying items from the shops.

A shop assistant at one of the shops, who only wanted to be known as Jeffry, 26, said people had stopped coming to the duty-free shops here since the MCO took effect.

“Although the ferry terminal is still open for Indonesians to return to their home country, the number of people travelling is significantly lower compared to before as there are standard operating procedures (SOP) in place.

“The bars and pubs here have also shut down with the MCO in force, ” he said.

He added that the move would most likely not have much of an impact on shops here, as a majority of people there buy alcohol instead of cigarettes.

“They will buy the alcohol and drink at areas around the terminal to avoid having to pay taxes once they leave the duty-free zone, ” he said.

It was earlier reported that cigarettes would be subjected to taxes at all duty-free islands and zones starting Jan 1.

The move was one of the measures under the recently passed Budget 2021 in an effort to stem cigarette smuggling activities, which is said to be rampant at duty-free islands and zones.

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cigarettes , tobacco , tax , tourism


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