LANGKAWI: Tourists must start paying a tourism promotion fee starting July 1 when they check into hotels here.
Depending on the hotel rating, it can be the highest in the country.
According to the Langkawi Municipal Council’s website, those checking into hotels of one or two stars rating, need pay just RM1 per room per night as the tourism promotion fee.
It is RM3 per room per night in three or four-star hotels, RM5 in five-star, RM7 in six-star and RM9 in seven-star hotels. This tops the other two tourism destinations in the country that charge a local fee.
Malacca’s heritage tax fee is RM2 per room per night regardless of the hotel star rating, while Penang’s local government fee is RM3 per room per night for four-star and five-star hotels, and RM2 per room per night for three stars and below.
When contacted, Malaysian Association of Hotels Kedah and Perlis chairman Yap Lip Seng said the hotels supported the fee implementation.
“Only 110,000 people live here, while about three million tourists drop by every year. The infrastructure, public facilities and services are designed for the tourists but the council’s revenue only comes from the population.
“So, we know that the local authority needs the funds,” said Yap, who is also Resorts World Langkawi general manager.
He added that the by-law was enacted last November but the implementation was postponed until now.
“Our association will also be given a seat in the fund’s committee, so that we can propose tourism promotion programmes,” he said.
Kedah Aman Makmur Tourism chief executive officer Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad said the higher fees for six and seven-star hotel guests were included into the by-law for future planning.
“There is no impact now because such hotels don’t exist here. The archipelago is almost entirely dedicated to tourism, so this fee will go a long way in making sure Langkawi stays on top of the game in the regional tourism market,” he added.
Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners national secretary Anthony Wong, however, urged the council to enforce the fee collection on all unregistered hotels and homestays.
“So many have mushroomed in the last two years and we believe 30% of tourist arrivals stay in these illegal hotels or homestays. They can now tell their guests that there will be no council fees if they stay with them.
“It will become more beneficial to be an unlicensed hotel in Langkawi,” said Wong, who is also the managing director of Frangipani Hotel Langkawi.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) vice-president (inbound) Datuk K.L. Tan expressed surprise at the fee.
“They should have given three to six months prior notice so that travel agents can adjust prices.
“Many tourists have made bookings and they won’t like it when they arrive and are told that they have to pay more,” he said.
Tan said that while Asians and Malaysians typically stayed two or three nights in Langkawi, Europeans would want to stay for more than seven nights and they might feel the pinch.
Did you find this article insightful?