Customs director-general Datuk Subromaniam Tholasy said the revenue collected will be channelled back to the tourism industry, especially to fund tourism promotion efforts.
Pic by NSTP/AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR
PUTRAJAYA: Proceeds from the Tourism Tax, which comes into effect on Sept 1, will not go into the government’s coffers.
Customs director-general Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy said the revenue collected will be channelled back to the tourism industry, especially to fund tourism promotion efforts.
"When there are more promotions, more international tourists will visit Malaysia. This has been explained extensively by (Tourism and Culture) Minister Datuk Seri Nazri (Aziz).
"The ones (who will be most affected will be) foreign tourists, (not) us. (But) how much is RM10 a head in pound sterling or the US dollar? It's a very small sum,” he said after a pre-launch of a Customs charity ride here today.
Subromaniam also urged accommodations operators to register for the tax before the deadline of Aug 31.
He revealed that only 4,000 operators have come forward to register for the tax so far.
"There are a minimum of 10,000 unregistered premises, but the ministry has not given us proper data on the numbers.
"But based on the law, anyone with five rooms or more is (applicable for the) tax, despite their star rating," said Subromaniam.
He added that the department will abstain from imposing punitive measures against operators who do not register, for the time being – but he stressed that the "friendly" approach has its limits.
"If there are issues, they can come to us and discuss. They can also register faster and more easily online,” he said, adding that the Department has also launched a “hand-holding programme” to walk operators through the system.
Subromaniam said that AirBnB has also, in principle, agreed to the tax and that the department will be speaking with its representatives on Aug 28 to iron out technical issues with the app-based service provider.
The announcement of the government's plan to introduce the Tourism Tax several months ago was poorly received by hotel operators as well as a number of state governments.
They claimed that the tax would diminish business for hotels and local tourism.