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Coronavirus outbreak: Hoteliers asking government for tax relief, cut in EPF payments

PETALING JAYA (Feb 11): Hoteliers are urging the government to temporarily reduce the tourism tax, cut EPF contributions, and provide discounts on water and power bills in light of the industry being impacted by the current novel coronavirus outbreak.

Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported that Yap Lip Seng, chief executive officer of the Malaysian Association of Hotels is requesting the finance ministry to implement their suggestions and to have them included them in the upcoming stimulus package.

The media have revealed that up to 95,000 hotel bookings have been cancelled in the country owing to the coronavirus epidemic.

Yap told the news portal that present tourism tax of RM10 per room per night should be slashed to “RM1 per room per night, until the end of the year, to encourage foreign tourists to visit the country”.

“It will not only lessen the burden of inbound tourists, particularly budget travellers, but also project Malaysia as a tourist-friendly destination,” he said.

Yap also suggested that service tax for hotels be removed until the end of the year.

Another burden that can be reduced is that of utility bills – with Yap proposing “a 10% discount to be given on water bills for hotels and a 15% discount on electricity bills for six months from February”.

“Hotels are burdened with high utility commitment due to our 24-hour operations and are in dire need of assistance,” he told FMT.

As for employers’ contribution to the EPF, Yap said there should also be a “temporary suspension” for “three months in view of the cash flow constraints caused by the current situation and the high number of employees in hotels”.

He also asked for a “temporary exemption on the minimum wage requirement for three months”.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said today that the stimulus package to boost the local economy will be announced at end February or early March.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) is offering as low as 40 per cent booth discounts specially for its members at the inaugural MATTA Fair Cuti-Cuti Malaysia from April 4 to 5 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the fair would help the local tourism industry recover after being hit by the recent cancellations by travellers from China due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“It is now the best time to hold a new MATTA fair exclusively for domestic tourism that facilitates Malaysian holidaymakers to enjoy many attractions and safe havens within the country, and for the service providers to switch focus from inbound to domestic market,” he said at a media conference on the announcement of the domestic travel fair, here, today.

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