KUALA LUMPUR: Foreigners staying at paid lodgings in Malaysia will be charged a flat rate of RM10 (US$2.30) per night as tourism tax while Malaysians will now be exempted from it completely, Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz said on Wednesday (Jul 26).
The tax, which is meant to be implemented from Aug 1, was initially announced at a rate of between RM2 to RM20 per night depending on the type of accommodation.
Malaysians had been expected to pay the tax too if they stayed at places with a three star rating and above.
"We will impose a RM10 flat rate from five-star to zero-star hotels for foreign tourists, and Malaysians will be exempted from the tax across all classifications of hotels,” he told Parliament, as quoted by The Star.
Mr Nazri reportedly said it was now up to the Prime Minister to determine the date of implementation.
He added that his ministry estimates a return of RM210,956,797 (USD$49,237,209) a year based on an average occupancy rate of 60 per cent of the 237, 391 rooms currently registered with the government. He expects this number to go up as more businesses register with the ministry.
The planned tourism tax has been controversial in Malaysia with East Malaysian states, in particular, fearing it would impact the number of tourists to Sabah and Sarawak.