Travel agencies urge govt to address hike in umrah package prices

Umrah travel providers are asking the government to engage with them to come up with solutions for recent hikes in umrah package prices. – AFP pic, January 25, 2023.

THE government has been urged to hold talks with industry players to seek ways to reduce the price of umrah packages, which are now reported to be burdening prospective pilgrims.

Omrah Travel Sdn Bhd executive chairman Ahmad Tajuddin Idris Al-Manhaji said the discussion should identify factors causing the increase in prices and how to lower them.

“The government through the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry may be able to play a role by holding a meeting with the travel agency association to discuss the extent of the increase and what the government can do to help so the public will not put the blame entirely on the travel agency.

“I think the government can provide subsidies for those who use government-owned hotels there (in Saudi Arabia during pilgrimage) so prices can be reduced,” he said on the “Apa Khabar Malaysia” programme on Bernama TV today.

Tajuddin said there are three factors influencing the hikes in umrah package prices, namely, the lower exchange rate of the national currency compared with the Saudi riyal, high demand for umrah packages, and industry players’ moves to revive their businesses by increasing rates. 

“It is true that there has been an increase in the price to perform the umrah after two years of Muslims all over the world not being able to do so, causing demand to be higher than supply with a lack of flights and perhaps not enough hotels since many hotels there are being renovated. 

“Industry players are taking the opportunity to raise prices to revive their businesses after the two-year freeze due to Covid-19,” he said. 

He said last-minute package price changes that also burden prospective pilgrims may be due to the lack of written agreements between local travel agencies and service providers in Saudi Arabia. 

“If there is a black-and-white agreement, any issue related to a sudden increase can be reported to the authorities (in Malaysia)... and I think the hotels there will not dare to break the law by raising hotel prices arbitrarily, ” he said. 

A representative of Saudi Arabia’s Enabat Al-Manasek company in Malaysia, Ahmad Fazrin Yahaya, said during the TV programme that the issue of umrah package price hikes is not only felt in Malaysia, but all over the world. 

“It is happening in almost all countries involved in the haj and umrah industry. For example, our neighbouring countries Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand also face the same thing… industry players are rushing to get hotel reservations, said to be very tough (due to high booking rates) after the haj season last year,” he said. 

Enabat Al-Manasek is responsible for managing the haj by-proxy and umrah programmes. – Bernama, January 25, 2023.

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