Hotels, resorts are losing out
Published on: Saturday, June 22, 2019
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Kota Kinabalu: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew has assured that she will help address the genuine need for registration of Airbnb and home-sharing operators for the good of all stakeholders.

The importance of regulating these operators was one of the core issues raised during a courtesy call by a -member delegation from the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Sabah-Labuan Chapter’s Executive Committee (2019-2022) led by its newly-elected Chairman Gordon Seet, Thursday.

“I will take up the matter with the relevant authorities,” she said.

Seet, who is the General Manager of Marriot Hotel, Kota Kinabalu, contended that the non-registration of Airbnb and home-sharing operators, is a huge loss to the State’s tourism industry in terms of revenue generation because they do not pay tourism tax.

“We are not against the operations of Airbnb and home-sharing operators. Rather, registration and legislation of these operators is to be a win-win situation for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, local councils and all accommodation providers.

“All we (hoteliers) desire is a fair and competitive playing-field in providing good services to international and local tourists alike,” he told Liew, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment.

The Chairman further argued that the Government is losing out on collection of tax revenues “that can be re-invested into provision of tourism services and maintenance of facilities”.

Briefing the Minister, Seet lamented that the overall room occupancy rate for 3-star, 4-star and 5-star Sabah hotels and resorts has decreased while visitor/tourist arrivals have increased by 8.0pc (that is, 5.8pc for international arrivals and 9.2pc for Malaysians).

Quoting statistics from the Sabah Tourism Board (STB), he said the occupancy rate for the first quarter of this year has dropped by 77.9pc, 74.4pc and 60.0pc for 5-star, 4-star and 3-star hotels and resorts, respectively, compared with the corresponding period for the first quarter of last year (that is, 84.9pc, 77.7pc and 62.3pc, respectively).

Seet attributed the decline to the operations of unregistered Airbnb and home-sharing operators who are not regulated by the authorities.

The MAH Sabah-Labuan Chapter’s Executive Committee also hoped that the ‘vacuum’ during the off-peak tourist season can be filled with Mice(Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition) events.

According to Sabah Tourism Board (STB) Senior Research Manager, Angeline Engchuan, the peak season is the period from December to March. There is a drop from April to June before picking up again in July and August. Off season is also seen in the months of September, October and November.

Meanwhile, the visiting group discussed departure tax and tax tourism receipts, among other issues.

Seet also enlightened the Minister on hotel practices on reducing plastic use and glass bottle recycling. “We also collaborate on rubbish cleaning and carry out this exercise as part of our corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme,” he added.

On the recent formation of the MAH Media Liaison Committee, Seet said its main objective is to promptly and effectively address news and issues on the hotel industry. 

For instance, the Committee issued a press statement on June 19 with the heading “Sabah continues to be a safe and popular destination for tourists” in response to the kidnapping news.

Others in the delegation were Honorary Secretary Sherry Yee, Honorary Treasurer Michael Tan, Committee Members Hafizan Wong, Vincent Chen, Martin Kong Abdullah, who is also the Media Liaison Sub-Committee Adviser, Chloe Loo and David Tai, and Anita Chung who is the Media Liaison Sub-Committee Deputy Chairperson.

Also present was STB Senior Marketing Manager Tay Shu Lan.


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