Short-term stays not under our purview, says Sarawak Tourism Minister

KUCHING: Regulating short-term rental accommodation and online travel agencies is not within the purview of Sarawak's Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Ministry, its minister says.

Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said licensing of accommodation providers came under local government, while travel agencies were licensed by the federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.

"We will look into unlicensed accommodation providers if the matter is really serious.

"We have discussed this, but it's for the local authorities to look into this matter.

"As far as my ministry is concerned, we want to make sure that the number of visitors is going up and that those who come here feel happy with what we are offering," he told reporters here on Monday (April 22).

Abdul Karim was responding to Malaysia Budget and Business Hotel Association (MyBHA) president Sri Ganesh Michiel's call for his ministry to assist budget hotel operators in Sarawak to ensure the sustainability of their business.

In a statement on Sunday (April 21), Ganesh said budget hotels would only raise their room rates if threats to the industry were not addressed by the relevant authorities.

He said these unresolved issues included failure to regulate online travel agencies and short-term rental accommodations without business licences, which affected licensed hotel operators.

Abdul Karim also said his ministry was working hard to bring more tourists to Sarawak, organising over 200 events annually.

He said the increase in visitor arrivals would benefit the budget hotel industry, even at existing room rates.

"Don't take the opportunity to quickly raise rates when there are a lot of visitors. It will not help the industry.

"When there are so many tourists coming in, that means the occupancy rate will also increase," he added.

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