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Government can do more to revitalise tourism, reduce airfares

Ahirul Ahirudin
Written by Ahirul Ahirudin

KUALA LUMPUR – June 21, 2019: A recent call by Tourism Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi for efforts to revitalise the country’s tourism sector, such as reducing airfares has generated suggestions for better government’s initiatives for that purpose.

Mohamaddin, in an interview with Berita Harian earlier this month, had among others stated that airfares for destinations in Sabah and Sarawak were too expensive as they have negative implication on domestic tourism. 

“For example, if the air fare going to Sabah and Sarawak cost up to RM1,000 while going to Bali, Indonesia cost only RM200, many will choose to travel to the latter destination and that will affect domestic travelling,” said Mohamaddin.

According to statistics Centre of Aviation (CAPA), Malaysia is the only country in South East Asia registering a decline in tourist growth at -0.4 per cent last year.

Former tourism minister Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir told The Mole that he prefers for a cabinet committee on tourism to be set up to address the issue.

“The government should set up a cabinet committee on Malaysian tourism to counter this ( the decline in tourism industry), as this will ensure a better coordination with all the relevant ministries and parties.

“I believe it should be helmed by Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin since he had experienced serving as a tourism cabinet committee back when he was the deputy prime minister.

Also, with the inclusion of all the relevant ministries and authorities as well as Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) and others, good decisions can be expected even in short notice,” said Kadir.

Meanwhile the CAPA report also mentioned how the decline of Malaysia’s tourism industry is going to get worse due to the newly implemented exit tax by the government.

Exit tax, is a form of tax that is levied on passengers of all outbound international flights. CAPA reports that with it, the total tax in addition to airport fees and government levies will account for 13 to 46 per cent of ticket prices.

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) believes that the government should sit down with the airlines and discuss the ticket prices if it is starting to affect the rate of tourist arrival in Malaysia.

“I think the CAPA report is pretty premature considering that exit tax is only newly implemented. There are probably many other reasons for the declining growth rate of tourists coming to Malaysia.

“It seems that various airlines such as AirAsia and Malindo are reporting profit so it remains to be seen if the growth rate will decline for Malaysia this year.

“However, if ticket prices do become an issue, the government should sit down with airlines to discuss ticket prices.”

The Departure Levy Bill 2019 was proposed during the tabling of the 2019 budget last year where a rate of RM20 for Asean countries and RM40 for international destinations will be imposed to each international departure from Malaysia.

It came into effect earlier this month on June 1.

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Ahirul Ahirudin

Ahirul Ahirudin