Yesterday, 16 July, Tony Fernandes sent out a series of tweets regarding why taxing the Malaysian tourism industry is not helpful, especially when it is a "low-hanging fruit" for jobs in the country
His tweets came after he met with Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir on a flight from Johor.
Abdul Kadir is a former seven-term Member of Parliament representing Kulim-Bandar Baharu, who served as the Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism from 1997 to 2004 under the previous Barisan Nasional administration.
"Bumped into Malaysia's best Tourism minister on AirAsia flight from Johor.
"He really understood what is needed. Malaysia desperately needs an integrated tourism plan. No exit tax, lower or no visa fees... (and) an airport that understands low-cost airlines," the outspoken group CEO and co-founder of AirAsia said in his tweet.
According to him, the lack of a tourism plan has led to even the hotel industry struggling due to the taxes and other fees they face
He described the country's tourism industry as "low hanging fruits" for jobs which cannot be helped by taxes as even the hotel industry is struggling to make money.
"It has a hotel tax on top of so many service fees. Tourism is 3rd biggest foreign exchange earner and number two GDP (Gross domestic product) earner," he tweeted.
According to a report in The Edge Markets, foreign tourists are taxed RM10 per night at accommodations such as hotels, guest houses, rest houses, and homestays. This tax has been active since September 2017 as a means of increasing the country's revenue.
While noting the importance of tourism to Malaysia's financial growth, Tony said that we should grow our tourism industry
The AirAsia boss urged the government to grow the country's economy by investing and growing the tourism industry to create more job opportunities.
Meanwhile, in April this year, Deputy Finance Minister Amiruddin Hamzah tabled the Departure Levy Bill 2019 in Parliament: