THE decision by Sarawak to withdraw from the Malaysian Tourism Board was met with approval by Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz today.
Nazri said Sarawak’s decision is consistent with his ministry’s decision to shut down the department in January due to the overlapping of duties.
“I welcome the decision by Sarawak’s Chief Minister because I had already decided to close the Kuching office in January,” Nazri told The Malaysian Insight today.
“There’s already some overlapping of functions as the promotional work is being done by both the Sarawak tourism department and the board.”
Nazri said Sarawak’s withdrawal would not impact his ministry and would smoothen his administration.
“It won’t affect us by much as there’s not much work for my officers in Sarawak anyway. Most of the promotional work is being handled by the Sarawak tourism ministry.
“My ministry has suffered a budget cut this year as a result of the lower oil prices. And I have been working hard to cut costs and close down departments which have overlapping duties,” he added.
Without citing any reasons, Sarawak Chief Minister’s office issued a statement to say that it has withdrawn from the Malaysian Tourism Board.
“The state government deems that the participation of its representatives in Tourism Malaysia is not necessary as this is duplication of the role and functions of the Sarawak Tourism Promotion Board,” it said in a statement today.
Nazri said that states should not oppose the tourism tax as it was a cabinet decision.
“The implementation should be decided by the cabinet (federal). They decided it. Not me. The tourism tax, which is starting on July 1, was instructed by the Prime Minister.
“There is no question about overstepping of jurisdiction as taxes are under federal government’s purview.
“Like GST all the state have to pay it and it is the federal government’s right,” he added.
Sarawak Tourism Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said that the federal government should have discussed the new law with the state government before implementing it.
He urged the federal government to postpone the tourism tax which comes into effect on July 1.
Under the new tax, tourists are required to pay between RM2.50-RM20 a day for accommodation that has more than 10 rooms,
Malaysia received 26.8 million tourists in 2016, according to information available from the Tourism Ministry. Of that, Sarawak had 2.26 million foreign visitors and 2.4 million visitors from the peninsula and Sabah.