KUALA LUMPUR – Sarawak’s Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah should have sought clarification on the new federal tourism tax before commenting on it publicly, said Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz today.
Responding to the Sarawak counterpart’s comments made yesterday, the tourism and culture minister also advised the former not to behave “like a gangster”.
“I’ve been a minister for a long time; if there’s anything that you don’t understand, meet me and ask me first,” he said to reporters when met during the Iftar@KL 2017 programme at Dataran Merdeka.
Abdul Karim yesterday urged Putrajaya to defer the July 1 implementation of the tourism tax for Sabah and Sarawak.
Among others, the Sarawak minister said the federal government must respect the Malaysia Agreement 1963 as tourism was only federalised recently.
Nazri reminded Abdul Karim that they were both Barisan Nasional ministers, and the latter could approach him for information.
The Umno leader also noted that the tourism tax would be more prevalent in peninsular Malaysia where most luxury hotels were located.
“I can count the number of five-star hotels in Sarawak with only one hand. I think Sarawak only has about two or three of such hotels,” he said.
He also pointed out that the concept of a tourism tax was not new, as both Penang and Melaka have similar policies in place.
The minister then said the revenue from the taxes would be distributed across Malaysia regardless of where these were collected, saying such an arrangement would benefit east Malaysian states disproportionately.
“At the end of the day, Sarawak and Sabah would be benefitting the most,” he added.
The tax will be levied starting July 1 on all patrons at a rate of RM20 per room night in five-star premises, RM10 at four-star outlets, RM5 for three- and two-star hotels and RM2.50 for orchid and other non-rated accommodation premises.
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.
– Malay mail