Budget allocation not enough to boost tourism, says Tiong

KUALA LUMPUR: The less than one billion ringgit allocated to the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) was insufficient and more funds would be sought, said its minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.

Tiong said Motac had been allocated the third smallest allocation in Budget 2023, tying with the Foreign Ministry at only RM0.97bil.

He noted that this was a 11.8% decrease compared to its RM1.1bil allocated under Budget 2022.

He also acknowledged concerns of industry players that the amount was not enough to support the growth of the tourism sector.

Tiong said he would look to discuss directly with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for additional funding.

“The tourism sector plays a major role in the economic growth of the country and we must ensure we have enough funds to support its continuous revival after the pandemic.

“I will first discuss with my team on how to move forward with the current allocation we have been given.

“Once we have established clear goals, I will then discuss with Anwar for more funding to meet our goals under Visit Malaysia Year in 2025,” he told reporters at a press conference before the launch of the “Inilah Masanya, Cuti-Cuti Malaysia” song at Dataran Merdeka here yesterday.

Malaysia is set to host another Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) in 2025 after the highly-anticipated Visit Malaysia 2020 was cancelled because of the pandemic.

The government had set a target of 23.5 million international arrivals for VMY 2025, with RM76.8bil in tourism receipts.

Separately, Tiong said the luxury goods tax announced in Budget 2023 would likely only affect the wealthy.

“From my understanding, the tax is only targeted at those with incredible wealth but pay next to nothing in taxes while enjoying the benefits of living in Malaysia.

“An example are those who pay their tax rates at the B40 level but have over 10 luxury cars in their home.

“This is extremely unfair to the people, which is why the tax structure is still being carefully developed by the Ministry of Finance (MOF),” he added.

Tiong said he had yet to receive any detailed information on the luxury goods tax from MOF.

On Friday during the Budget 2023 speech, the Prime Minister had announced a luxury goods tax for items like watches and fashion products.

The proposed tax has since drawn serious concern from tourism players with many fearing it would cripple the country’s attractiveness as a tourist shopping destination.

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