Hotels must register with Customs Dept for Tourism Tax

KUCHING: Enforcement will be carried out on hotels not registered with the Customs Department after a three-month grace period from Sept 1 which is the date the new Tourism Tax has come into force.

Roy Ting, a committee member of Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Sarawak Chapter said it seemed inevitable that finally all hotels would have to pay the tax.

“For those hotels that are paying goods and services tax (GST), automatically our hotels are registered. For those not paying GST, they will have to register with the Customs Department for the payment of the new Tourism Tax.”

“If these hotels do not register after a three-month grace period, they may be charged by the Customs Department,” Ting told DayakDaily today.

He said as today was only the fourth day of implementation, there has not been many issues arising as the local travellers were not affected.

The new Tourism Tax requires foreign guests to pay RM10 per night for their hotel accommodation. Local travellers have been exempted.

“So far from what I have gathered, there were not many serious issues because guests were well informed of its implementation and most of them had pre-booked their stay with their accommodation providers.”

“And for our member hotels, most of us have guest relations staff or a sales team to handle guest matters,” said Ting.

Ting said for the time being, there might not be any issue, but in the long run, there may be some negative impact.

“Indonesians seeking medical treatment make up the bulk of our foreign guests in hotels. Such a move may drive them to seek other cheaper accommodation not affected by the tax such as “bilik sewa” (short term rental rooms) or online accommodation provider Airbnb.”

Ting said in general, hoteliers like him were still against the implementation of the tax as it would drive away tourists to other countries with a similar tropical climate.

“This is not the appropriate time. We are now facing stiff competition from other countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Foreign tourists will make comparison and we will be losing out,” said Ting.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Central Region Hotel Association chairman Johnny Wong said in Sibu, there are still many hotels which have yet to register with the Customs Department.

“Only foreign tourists or guests need to pay the new tax. The government is also giving exemption to the Indonesians who hold work permits. And for Sibu, we have very few foreign tourists. So there is not much impact,” said Wong.

He added there are about 80 hotels in Sibu and out of this total, three of them are three-star hotels and only one is a four-star hotel. The rest are mostly budget hotels.

“Local hoteliers are still against the new tax because as most of them are budget hotels. To pay an extra RM10 each night for a room charging RM50 or RM40 is a lot compare to hotels that collect RM200 or RM150,” he said.