Trade Shows and EventsThe president of the largest association of tour and travel agents in Malaysia spread some joy at the biggest travel fair in the country.

Good news for the travel industry at MATTA Fair

MATTA Opening 190318
MATTA Opening 190318

Frowns were turned into smiles and applause when Datuk Tan Kok Liang, President of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) centred his speech around the Sales and Services Tax (SST).

There were many worried faces in the hall at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur during the official launch of the three-day Matta Fair on Saturday. 

Frowns were turned into smiles and applause when Datuk Tan Kok Liang, President of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) centred his speech around the Sales and Services Tax (SST).

“After a meeting Matta had recently with the Ministry of Finance (MOF), we received verbal confirmation that the SST will not be imposed in March and we are very thankful that they have listened to us and will look at a new and better mechanism by the Royal Malaysian Customs Department,” explained Tan.

The travel industry was earlier exempted from the SST of 6% by the new government in Putrajaya. However, on Jan 1, 2019 the government suddenly announced that they would be imposing this tax on the industry effective March 1.

The suddenness of the announcement, had left the industry stakeholders floundering noted Tan as he explained that not only did the travel industry have to absorb the SST when it came to forward contracts committed before March 1, the new mechanism imposed, which involved itemized billing would expose businesses to reveal their margins.

Tan said that with the current SST, there would be a cascading effect and costs would be go up for consumers and this would affect not only inbound tourism but also outbound.

Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) in his speech noted that tourism contributed 14.9% to the country’s GDP and was a very important sector He added that his ministry was targeting 28.1 million visitor arrivals this year with projected receipts of RM92.2billion.

“One of our key focus is eco-tourism and we are using the National Eco Tourism Plan of 2016-2025 and our other key drivers are our multi-cultural experiences and our heritage, many of which has been recognized by UNESCO,’ he noted.

At a press conference after the launch Mohamaddin was asked if MOTAC would confer with the MOF to impose a consolidated tax on tourism rather than the many different taxes currently imposed, which was the most number compared to other industries. He was also asked if foreign tourists would have a mechanism to claim back some of their spending which they had enjoyed under the GST mechanism.

“This is not under our purview but under the MOF and it is up to the travel industry to speak to them,” said Mohamaddin.

To a question if there was any move to strengthen branding of some of Malaysia’s heritage and cultural products as some neighbouring countries have managed to successfully do so, he replied that Malaysia’s promotional efforts has worked quite effectively and that they wouldn’t stop branding efforts taken by other countries.

Earlier, Tan had said that another challenge facing the industry was the presence of illegal travel agents and he urged the authorities to step up enforcement and close any existing legal loopholes allowing them to operate. However, he called on the travel industry to not just complain but to also improve in offering better quality products and services.

Datuk Christina Liew, Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah had also earlier given a speech on behalf of Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal, Chief Minister of Sabah which touched upon the campaign Cuti Cuti Labuan to highlight the eastern coast area of Sabah outside the more-well known west coast. He also mentioned that there were three new products being developed for the west coast and two in the east coast to bring in more tourists.

Liew elaborated later that they include a war memorial pavilion to honour the unsung heroes of the Second World War, additional enhancements of the hot springs at the Kinabalu Park and building a new cultural centre that would highlight 35 different tribes in addition to building a lodge at the national park near Tawau.

Sabah was selected as Malaysia’s Favourite Destination at the fair.


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