Local and international touris at Bandar Hilir, Melaka last year. Pix by Muhammad Hatim Ab Manan

KUALA LUMPUR: The implementation of the Tourism Tax (TTx) will begin on August 1 this year, as announced by the Customs Department on their website.

Prior to the enforcement date, operators of accommodation premises are required to register their businesses starting July 1.

Regulated by the Finance Ministry and the Customs Department, the tax is charged at a specific rate on tourists staying at any accommodation premises provided by an operator of the said accommodation premises.

These accommodation premises are buildings including hostels, hotels, inns, boarding-houses, rest houses and lodging houses, held out by the proprietor, owner or manager, either wholly or partly, as offering lodging or sleeping accommodation to tourists for hire or any other form of reward, whether or not food or drink is also offered.

Tourist accommodation premises are any accommodation which have been registered by the Commissioner under subsection 31C (1) Tourism Industry Act 1992.

It is stated in the announcement that this tax is implemented using a mechanism of cooperation between the government and the industry to enhance tourism experience for tourists.

Tax returns will be used to develop the tourism industry, namely the enhancement of tourism infrastructure and facilities, tourism promotional activities and campaigns.

Implementation of this tax is also an effort to protect, preserve and conserve Mother Nature, culture and heritage for the benefit of the present and future generations.

According to the announcement, tax rate is fixed at RM20 per room per night (five-star), RM10 per room per night (four-star), RM5 per room per night (one-, two- and three-star), RM2.50 per room per night (one, two and three Orchid) and RM2.50 per room per night (non-rated accommodation premises).

Whether Malaysian nationals or otherwise, a “tourist” defines any persons visiting any place in Malaysia for purposes including recreation or holiday, culture, religion, visiting friends or relatives, sports, business, meetings, conferences, seminars or conventions, studies or research, any other purpose which is not related to an occupation that is remunerated from the place visited.

Under the TTx, the registered operator is liable to collect tourism tax from a tourist upon his or her departure and pay the tourism tax collected to the Customs Department in respect of his taxable period.

The announcement also stated that an exemption of the tourism tax is available for ‘homestay’ registered with Ministry of Tourism and Culture (Motac), ‘kampung stay’ registered with Motac, accommodation premises established and maintained by religious institutions not for commercial purposes or accommodation premises with less than 10 rooms.

Accommodation premises operated by the Federal Government, State Government or statutory body for training, educational or accommodation not for commercial purposes are also eligible for the exemption.

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