Sabah government works with Sarawak counterpart to ensure tourism industry benefits from tourism tax

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah state government has invited the Sarawak Tourism Ministry to discuss on some pertinent issues of the Tourism Tax and come up with a joint stand in the spirit of cooperation with the neighbouring state.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun (pix) said the outcome of the discussion and deliberation would then be submitted to the respective chief minister and state Cabinet in a form of a draft memorandum to the federal Government for its consideration.

"The joint memorandum will be handed by both chief ministers to the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) who is also the finance minister. The tourism tax (to be implemented on July 1) comes under the purview of the federal ministry of finance," he said in a statement here today.

He said the State Tourism Ministry had also been entrusted to deliberate further on some key issues of the act and to report back to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and the state Cabinet on their findings and proposals.

The state cabinet which met yesterday felt that there was a need for further deliberations and clarity on some key issues of the act to ensure Sabah tourism industry benefits from it, he said.

"The tourism industry has been a very resilient industry and at times the saviour of our economy during challenging times. In the case of Sabah, it's the only major industry that is controlled by locals in terms of employment. It's crucial that the industry is well managed and regulated," Masidi added.

Meanwhile in KUCHING, Sarawak Tourism, Art, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the state government welcomed the proposal to exempt Malaysians from paying tourism tax when they stay in hotels rated three stars and below.

He said the exemption would benefit Malaysians as there are more such hotels in Malaysia especially in Sarawak.

"What we want is the money collected from the tourism tax is going to be used for tourism promotions and not for other purposes," he told a press conference after the state cabinet meeting yesterday.

On how Sarawak intended to use the money collected from the tourism tax, he said, the state has its own tourism board (Sarawak Tourism Board) and would identify how to channel the money (collected from the tourism tax) for the state's tourism promotions.

The Tourism Tax Bill was passed by Parliament in April 2017. — Bernama