SEPANG: Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan today launched the Tourism Refund Scheme counters which would be operational at eight main airports when the Goods and Services Tax (GST) comes into effect on April 1.

With the opening of the counters, Tourists who shopped in Malaysia during their stay will be able to claim the amount spent on GST over items that they bought before returning home to their country.

Ahmad said the scheme was part of the government's effort to promote the tourism industry, which was in line with making Malaysia a prime shopping destination in Malaysia.

He said the counters will be made available at Senai, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Penang’s international airports, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), KLIA2, Sultan Ahmad Shah Airport, Pahang and Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang.

"Only foreign tourists are allowed to claim tax refunds while Malaysian citizens as well as permanent residents are not eligible for refunds.

"Diplomats are also allowed to refund under the condition that they have finished their service in Malaysia," he said when launching the Refund Verification Counter in KLIA, here, this afternoon.

Also excluded from being entitled for a refund are the flight and cabin crew, and those who have not been working in Malaysia at least three months before leaving the country.

He said the refunds could not be given to those who travelled by land or sea. Tourists must also declare the goods at the verification counters before being refunded.

The refunds, he said, would either be made through cash for amounts not exceeding RM300, or by cheque or through banking transfers for higher amounts.

He said wine, spirits, beer, and Malta drinks, apart from tobacco products, were excluded from the refunds, while valuable metals and stones, and other jewellery were allowed to do so under several conditions.