KUALA LUMPUR – Sarawak is withdrawing its representative from the Malaysian Tourism Board with immediate effect, following the state’s disagreement with the federal government over the introduction of a new tourism tax.
The decision was announced today by the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office.
“The Sarawak state government has decided to withdraw the participation of its representative in Malaysia Tourism Board with immediate effect,” it said in a statement.
“The state government deems that the participation of its representatives in Tourism Malaysia is not necessary as this is duplicating the role and functions of the Sarawak Tourism Promotion Board.”
Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah previously urged Putrajaya to defer the July 1 implementation of the new tax for Sabah and Sarawak, saying the federal government should respect the Malaysia Agreement 1963 when deciding such matters.
This led to a rebuke from Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who yesterday told his Sarawak counterpart not to be confrontational over the matter.
Nazri also said the tax would benefit Sarawak more than it would affect tourism in the state, noting that luxury hotels that would attract the highest tax rate were a rarity in the state.
The new tax will be levied starting July 1 on all patrons at a rate of RM20 per room night in five-star hotels, RM10 at four-star outlets, RM5 for three- and two-star hotels and RM2.50 for orchid and other non-rated accommodation premises (RM2.50).
Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board chairman Datuk Siew Ka Wei previously said the tax would ensure the industry’s sustainable growth and provide financial support for aggressive marketing campaigns.