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When You Go Travelling, Check to See if You're Paying This Tax or Not!

BY Philippe Andrews

Updated 24 Oct 2019

“Eh? Why got hidden charges one? And so expensive!” This is a perfectly understandable — and very Malaysian — reaction to have when you discover any hidden charges on bills, especially when it comes to expensive affairs like travelling.

Oh yes, we know just how frustrating it is to find that your vacation is going to cost you far more than you thought it would — all thanks to unforeseen charges like tourism tax!

But before you fire up your engine to complain ah, ask yourself this: What exactly is this tourism tax, and is it something that you need to be worried about?

What's covered in this article?

What is tourism tax in Malaysia?

For starters, it’s good to remember that in Malaysia, tourism taxes — also known as TTx — are only collected by owners of accommodation for the rental of these spaces, and are usually labelled clearly in bills. 

The TTx has also been set at a flat rate of RM10 per night per room rented. This rate was fixed in September 2017, compared to the previous tourism tax system, where rates differed according to the number of stars an accommodation is rated with.

So, if you book a hotel room in Kuala Lumpur for three nights at a price of RM200 a night, you would have to pay the total TTx of RM30 (RM10 per night X 3 nights), bringing the total cost of your stay to RM630. This is not including other additional charges!

Surprised that you aren’t being charged for TTx upon checking into your hotel room? Keep calm and remember that TTx payments are usually only charged during the checkout process, once you have completed your stay at an accommodation. 

This allows the owners to calculate your total TTx payment based on the number of nights and rooms you actually utilised during your stay, which might differ from the initial booking.

Who has to pay the tourism tax?

A sample receipt

To put it simply, the TTx must be paid by tourists who are planning to spend at least one night in Malaysia by renting a place to stay. 

How do you know if you’re a tourist in Malaysia or not? Well, the Malaysian Tourism Industry Act 1992 defines a tourist as “any Malaysian or foreign national who visits any part of Malaysia for purposes including pleasure, recreation, business, sports, and meetings”. 

BUT, here’s some news that will give your kiamsiap side a reason to rejoice: only foreign tourists need to pay the TTx. You will be exempted from paying TTx if you fall in any of these categories: 
  • Tourists who happen to be Malaysian nationals. 
  • Tourists who possess a MyPR card and are thus recognised as permanent Malaysian residents. 

The TTx is applicable in all types of accommodation premises, ranging from hotels to hostels and motels. Basically, as long as they are operated by businesses which register the rental of these premises as their main business activity, you gotta pay up lah. 

Homestays and kampung-stays are the only two types of accommodation that are not required to collect these taxes, along with organisations who operate accommodation premises for the purposes of education, welfare or training.

Therefore, unless all foreign tourists were to find themselves a homestay or kampung-stay, they need to be prepared to pay the tourism tax for each night spent on Malaysian soil.

Does this tourism tax get refunded?

Cue the moaning, groaning, and sad music in the background — because the answer to this question is “No.” Rest assured, however, that all TTx payments go to a good cause!

The funds collected from the TTx will be channelled towards the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism and Culture, as well as the Royal Malaysian Customs Department. They’ll (hopefully lah) be using the money to improve hospitality and tourism infrastructure, and also for the protection and preservation of iconic culture and heritage attractions.

You may also want to keep in mind that tourists in Malaysia are no longer entitled refunds for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) or Value Added Tax (VAT) either, as the Malaysian government revised the GST rate in 2018 from 6% to 0%, thus requiring no extra taxes to be paid for any goods that you purchase in Malaysia.

Can I use my travel insurance to claim tourism tax?

Although travel insurance plans are commonly designed to protect you from harm and to compensate you for any damages you kena while travelling, they do not protect your wallet from necessary expenses. So, sadly, you will not be able to receive compensation for TTx through an insurance claim. 

The same can be said for Malaysians who are travelling abroad: your travel insurance plan will not cover tourism tax payments that you are required to make when visiting foreign countries. 

This doesn’t mean that you should neglect getting yourself a decent travel insurance plan for your journey! There are various benefits offered by travel insurance, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. “Better safe than sorry”, and what better way to get the right protection than to compare the packages on offer and get a free quote instantly with Loanstreet!
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About the Author

Philippe Andrews


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