PUTRAJAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs), Datuk Dr. Mohd. Na’im Mokhtar is ready to bring the issue of increasing the cost of Umrah to Saudi Arabia.
The matter was voiced by him as a comment on the front page report of Utusan Malaysia today which revealed a sudden jump in hotel rates in the holy land.
“I will raise the issue of this cost increase directly to the Minister of Hajj and Umrah of Saudi Arabia, Tawfia Fawzan Al-Rabiah,” he said through a post on his social media page.
Utusan Malaysia reported an increase in hotel accommodation rates in Mecca and Medina by up to 110 percent following high demand among foreign pilgrims, which was acknowledged by the Malaysian Travel and Tourism Agents Association (Matta) which claimed it was due to the re-opening of borders in many countries after the Covid-19 outbreak.
The surge in charges even rose sharply after the end of the Hajj season last year due to the growing trend of demand exceeding supply for hotels in the holy land.
Commenting further, Mohd. Na’im explained that he currently happened to be in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to attend the 2023 Hajj and Umrah Service Conference.
“I understand very well that this matter raises the anxiety of Umrah pilgrims to some extent, but as you know, the issue is beyond our control,” he said.
However, he saw the situation this time also due to the impact of cost increases in Saudi Arabia itself, which of course also had an impact on pilgrims in other countries.
Accordingly, he hopes that the Umrah agency in the homeland can consider the best space and method so that the cost increase is not excessive.
At the same time, he said, if there is still a need to increase the package charge, Mohd. Na’im hopes that the move will not burden prospective Umrah pilgrims.
It is currently estimated that there are nearly 500 holiday agencies under Matta that have been granted licenses to conduct Umrah by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
Before the country’s border gates were closed in early 2020, the Saudi Arabian government recorded about 300,000 Umrah pilgrims from Malaysia coming to the holy land every year. – MESSENGER
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