The tourism industry is not expected to be affected following the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in April next year.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the government had already put in place the proper steps to implement the new tax.

“I don’t think the arrival of foreign tourists would be affected with the implementation of the GST as other countries also implement a similar tax,” he said to reporters after launching the Johor Craft Festival 2014.

He said this when asked to comment on whether the implementation of the GST would affect tourist arrivals in this country.

At present, some 160 countries worldwide have implemented GST.

Earlier in his speech, Mohamed Nazri said from January to July this year, the total foreign tourists increased 9.7 per cent to 16.1 million compared with 14.7 million in the same period last year.

He said with the encouraging growth, the local craft industry was seen as having the potential to assist the government in upholding the country as a renowned tourist destination in Asia through the production and sales of craft products.

“The key performance indicators of the Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation (Kraftangan Malaysia) until October 2014 amounted to RM444.5 million, which is three per cent higher than the target of RM430 million,” he said.

The achievement, he said, was largely contributed via purchases of local crafts by foreign tourists in the country.

This proved that the handicraft industry can also contribute to the increase in the country’s income if it is developed continuously and seriously by all parties.

The festival, held at Plaza Angsana for 14 days beginning today, is participated by 300 craft entrepreneurs throughout the country, and targeting sales of RM6.5 million.– BERNAMA