KUCHING: Sarawak and Sabah have reached a common stand to defer the Tourism Tax until a mechanism on its implementation is achieved.
Officials from both sides met on Tuesday to discuss the implementation of the tax and both sides agreed on a few matters, one of which was that the portion of the tax collection be shared equally between Sabah, Sarawak and peninsular Malaysia.
Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who led the Sarawak side, did not disclose the proposed date for the tax to be rolled out.
However, he said the best time to implement it would be next year in order to brief hoteliers and give consideration to forward bookings.
"We have agreed on a few matters and these will be passed to the chief minister for endorsement before we can reveal the outcome.
"Basically, we have agreed to a deferment of the implementation of the tourism tax," Abdul Karim told reporters during a special session with the tourism industry at Brooke Gallery at Fort Margherita here on Tuesday.
Abdul Karim said a referendum, compiled from views and proposals gathered at the meeting, will be signed by the chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak within the next few days.
"We come out with good packages, especially for MATTA fair, for tourists. Now that they have made their bookings, we end up taxing them and that is not good for the industry," he added.
Abdul Karim was accompanied by Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, ministry's permanent secretary Datuk Ik Pahon Joyik and Assistant Attorney-General John Wayne Sirau.
The Sabah delegation included Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, senior ministers as well as state Deputy Attorney-General Zaleha Pandin.
Under the new tax to be implemented on Aug 1, hotel guests will be charged between RM2.50 and RM20 for every night's stay.
Locals will be exempted from the tax for stays at three-star hotels and below.