Give Us Our Dues From Tourism Tax, Sabah, Sarawak Tells Putrajaya

Masidi, second from left, Sabah Tourism Chairman, Joniston Bangkuai, tourism industry players get the thrills from a Smart Hero jet boat ride in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday.

KOTA KINABALU: Having spent millions of ringgit to carry out their own promotions worldwide, Sabah and Sarawak are now seeking a more equitable share of the tourism tax collected from foreign visitors staying in hotels.

Masidi Manjun, the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister said he would be discussing the matter with his Sarawak counterpart Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah soon “over the phone.”

“We have done this at our own costs and I hope this will be taken into account in the division of the tourism tax revenue,” he said after launching the Smart Hero jet boat service at Tanjung Aru near here on Saturday.

It had earlier been reported that revenue from the tourism tax would be shared equally between Sabah, Sarawak and the peninsula, but latest reports indicate that Sabah and Sarawak would only be getting RM1 each from the RM10 tax imposed.


The Star online quoted Masidi saying that the state was appreciative of the Federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’s (Mocat) move of imposing the tourism tax only on foreign visitors, in adding this was among Sabah and Sarawak’s common stand on the matter.

However he said instead of a flat rate of RM10 per room per night, Mocat should consider such a rate for tourists staying at four and five hotels and a RM5 for those staying hotels rated three stars and below.

“Such a tax would be easy to collect as well,” Masidi in adding that both Sabah and Sarawak had agreed that the tourism tax must not impede the industry which was sensitive to any changes.

Nazri Aziz, the federal Tourism, Arts and Culture minister said the government wanted the collection of tourism tax to start from Aug 1 but this would be dependent on the preparedness of the Customs Department.

The tourism tax was initially supposed to have been imposed on Malaysians as well but at different rates than foreign visitors.

Nazri had said that the revenue collected would be used to promote Malaysia overseas and refurbish tourism facilities.

The jet boat offers locals and tourists a thrilling time, but be prepared to dig deep into your pockets for a 15-minute ride.

Meanwhile, East Asia’s first thrill rides using jet boats are now available at Tanjung Aru near here.

The 15-minute jet boat rides take passengers to waters near the Tengku Abdul Rahman marine park islands.

The jet boat rides operated by Smart Hero (Malaysia) Bhd are similar to what is offered at various rivers and lakes in New Zealand and other countries.

Smart Hero managing director Michael Chen said they were operating rides using two jet boats for now and this could increase depending on demand.

The jet boats can accommodate up to 12 passengers and the 15 minute rides cost RM150.