KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 27 – The federal government has set aside an allocation of RM3.5 billion to boost the national tourism industry for the year 2018, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. When tabling Budget 2018 in Parliament here today, Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said it was estimated that there would be 28 million tourist arrivals in 2018.
“As such, a sum of RM2 billion is allocated to SME Tourism Fund to provide soft loans to tour operators with an interest subsidy of 2 per cent, and an additional RM1 billion to Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund as soft loans. A sum of RM500 million is provided to develop and promote tourism through upgrading infrastructure facilities, as well as promoting homestay and eco-tourism programmes,” he said.
The prime minister said the tourism sector was one of the key sources of income to the nation’s economy and according to the World Tourism Organisation Report, Malaysia was ranked 12th in terms of tourist arrivals in 2016. Najib said the government would also expand eVisa regional hub by facilitating visa application worldwide, especially for expatriates, foreign students, and Malaysia My Second Home programme.
During the speech, Najib also declared 2020 as the Visit Malaysia Year, in which Malaysia ould also host series of international meetings, namely APEC, WCIT and CHOGM. In this regard, he said tax incentive for investment in new four- and five-star hotels and tax incentive for tour operators would also be extended until Dec 31, 2020. To strengthen the health-tourism industry as one of the country’s sources of income, Najib said the government would provide end-to-end service for medical tourists coming to Malaysia.
“In this respect, the government is allocating RM30 million to Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) to implement certain initiatives, which include to promote Malaysia as the Asian hub for fertility treatment, including IVF and cardiology, with the eVisa facility to be extended to cover other specialised medical services and high-value healthcare packages; and to introduce Flagship Medical Tourism Hospital Programme, which offers special incentive to private hospitals to attract medical tourists,” he said.
The prime minister said the government would also extend the investment tax allowance of 100 per cent for medical tourism until Dec 31, 2020, and provide double tax deduction on expenses incurred in obtaining certification from healthcare services accreditation bodies for dental and ambulatory services registered with MHTC. He said the government would also increase the special tourism healthcare incentive from 50 per cent to 100 per cent of the incremental value of exports, for private healthcare services, beginning year of assessment 2018 to 2020. — Bernama