The State Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry have refuted claims that Chinese tourists are dropping Sabah for their holidays due to the new controversial tourism tax.
Its minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun said: "On the contrary, Sabah's tourism sector is booming with tourist arrivals at all-time-high and hotels and resorts, especially 5-star hotels are running out of rooms to cope with the overwhelming demand.â€
He was replying to Klias Assemblyman (PKR) Datuk Lajim Ukin at the State Legislative Assembly sitting, yesterday. Lajim posed the question to the minister on claims that Chinese tourists have cancelled their flight arrangements to Sabah for August and September due to the anticipated increase in travel cost from the new tax.
Furthermore, Masidi pointed out that hotel booking is almost full, adding the ministry also received numerous deals to bring in at least 12 more charter flights to Sabah but there were just insufficient hotel rooms to accommodate them.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman recounted his experience with a group of Chinese business delegation who wanted to bring 10,000 people on a trip to Sabah. "I said I'm sorry that we just don't have enough rooms or hotels for such a large delegation but this just shows how popular Sabah really is" he said.
Touching on the tourism tax, Masidi said the ministry together with Sarawak had always opposed the tax since it was first proposed by the Federal Ministry.
"There were simply not enough negotiations by the Federal government with both state governments, and other states are also disappointed that they decided to go ahead with the bill without getting feedback" said Masidi.