AVID traveller Shahida Sakeri will think twice about going overseas for her holiday next year when the departure levy on travellers leaving Malaysian airports is introduced on June 1.
The government has proposed a fee of RM20 per head for those departing for Asean countries and RM40 for other countries.
Shahida said since she was used to travelling solo, it might not affect her as badly as those travelling in a large group.
“For my aunts and uncles with many children, they will now have to bear the additional costs,” she said.
Teacher Gayathiri Kanniapen said she did not mind paying the extra charge as long as the money collected was used to improve tourism infrastructure in the country.
“I want to see more facilities for the disabled at our tourist attractions, such as increasing accessibility at museums and parks,” she added.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk Tan Kok Liang, on the other hand, described the move as “disappointing”.
“It will not have any significant impact on domestic tourism as leisure travellers are on extreme budget constraints and very price sensitive.
“Domestic tourism can be improved by providing healthier tourism fundamentals, better tourism packages and capping on domestic airfares,” he said.
However, Tan welcomed the RM100mil grant for private companies to boost international tourist arrivals through marketing efforts, which he called a “good surprise”.
Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association president Uzaidi Udanis said the money collected from the departure levy could be used to promote inbound travel.
However, he also warned that the move might deter airlines from increasing connectivity from the country.
“If there is lower demand for outbound travel, airlines might not be interested in introducing new routes from the country,” said Uzaidi.
Malaysia Airlines in a statement said that any funds generated and channelled back to the development of the aviation industry in general would only be positive for the sector.
Budget 2019 also allocated RM20mil to the Malaysia Healthcare Tourism Council (MHTC) to promote the country’s medical tourism industry.
MHTC chief executive officer Sherene Azli said this would further propel Malaysia’s profile as a leading global destination for healthcare tourism.
“This will go a long way in bringing Malaysia’s healthcare tourism to new heights while making a significant positive economic impact on the nation,” she said.