KUALA LUMPUR (June 11): The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) had today proposed that Malaysia abolish its RM10 per room per night tourism tax to grow foreign tourist arrivals.
MAH president Cheah Swee Hee said it told Malaysia's Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) that the ideal way of dealing with the tourism tax is to abolish it. The tourism tax, enforced since Sept 1, 2017, applies to foreign tourists. It was reported that local tourists and permanent residents in Malaysia are exempted from the tax.
Today, Cheah said: "Yes, we discussed the tourism tax. We got to find a solution to that. It has to be fair to everybody, because at the moment with a flat rate, we are not encouraging long stay because you are charging customers every night. So, they (hoteliers) are finding a solution to that."
"The best is to abolish it. That would be more attractive to the tourist, but of course, whatever said and done, they will have to discuss the issue," he said here today before leaving Menara Ilham, where MAH's meeting with CEP took place.
Cheah said MAH and CEP had also discussed about minimum wage and unlicensed hotels in Malaysia.
"We discussed about connectivity and how to bring in high spending tourists. The other one is the minimum wage. The hotel sector is very unique, we already have the service charge as part of staff income, but because of the (minimum wage) regulations that mention basic salary, it makes the income (earned) by people (working) in the hotel sector seem to be very little, but in actual fact, their service charge is very high, it can be up to RM550 multiply by six points and the service charge can be up to RM3,000.
"We also discussed about unlicensed hotels like Airbnb. We have to have the right regulation for it. We cannot discount any business model in any industry, but we need the regulation so that we can have a fair playing ground for everybody," he said.