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Where’s the tourism money due to Sabah?
Published on: Wednesday, December 04, 2019
By: Anthea Peter

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) urged the Federal Government to immediately release the RM12.7 million in 2018 tourism tax that is due to the State Government.

Its President Datuk Seri Winston Liaw (pic) said he was informed by the Sabah Tourism Board last month that the sum had yet to be given to the State and by right should have been done by the middle of this year.

“We were supposed to receive 50 per cent (of the tax) which is about RM12.7m. We began to collect (the tourism tax) in September 2018 at RM10 per room and per night. In only four months, we were the highest. We push so much on Sabah’s tourism that we are ranked number one in Malaysia in terms of tourism tax, but where is the money? This is our concern.

“We cannot accept this holding of funds which belong to us. Otherwise we are not able to develop our tourism industry,” he said, adding that the funds are needed for promotional activities as well as infrastructure repair work.

“Dragging on will only have negative effects,” he told a press conference in his office at Api Api Centre, Tuesday.

Satta also said it supports Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew’s request to the Federal Government for licensing autonomy to be granted to Sabah. Winston said the State is fully capable of managing tourism-related licensing on its own.

“We can do it ourselves. When we get the power back in that sense, we can do so many things. Right now, we have to refer to Federal,” he said.

He added that the Federal Government always claims lack of manpower on their part, considering there is only one Tourism Ministry office in Kota Kinabalu.

Winston said such lack of manpower poses an unending problem in monitoring illegal tour operators as there isn’t a taskforce big enough to handle the issue. 

“The best thing to do is to give back power to the State government. We have so many departments. We can set up an enforcing unit to regulate (illegal operators).

On Monday, Christina was reported as requesting for devolution of power from the Federal Government through Motac for the State to autonomously approve and issue five types of tourism licences.

They are the entry and exit licence for tourism agents, licence for tourist guides, licence for tourism vehicles, licence to manage tourism training schools and ticket licensing.

Christina said such autonomy would boost tourism and enhance efficiency of the industry’s service delivery system.

However, she received a written reply from Motac that the licensing autonomy is yet to be granted as matters regarding the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) are still under negotiation. 



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