Jul 16 2012
|more articles from|
System ready to regulate domestic Umrah sector
Abdullah Qadi, deputy head of the National Committee for Haj and Umrah, said the system aims at rein in bogus Umrah tour operators reportedly operating in various regions of the Kingdom.
He added: "The new mechanism was ready and is awaiting the approval of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah."
Under the new system, the domestic Umrah tourism operation would come under the Ministry of Haj's responsibilities, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported on Saturday.
At present, there is a system to only regulate tour operations involving foreign Umrah pilgrims.
There are 48 licensed companies and firms in charge of pilgrims from abroad.
On the other hand, there is no specific system to regulate the domestic market.
This has led to an increasing number of complaints about illegal tour operators allegedly exploiting pilgrims by charging high fares and providing poor services.
There is also a rising number of cases where bogus tour operators absconded after collecting money from pilgrims.
The new move comes amid increasing calls from a number of domestic Umrah tour operators to curb illegal firms and agencies.
Several pilgrims have also complained about the poor quality of services provided by these firms.
One pilgrim said some of them used old buses and were not prompt with regard to following their itineraries.
They also broke promises to provide accommodation in the vicinity of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, he said.
Qadi said domestic pilgrims are especially susceptible to being cheated by these illegal tour operators when the Umrah season peaks during Ramadan.
Abdullah Al-Bihar, an official at a domestic Umrah firm, said that there is every possibility charges for Umrah tours could double after the first half of Ramadan.
Meanwhile, some domestic Umrah firms joined hands to cope with the thriving business in Ramadan.
They work hand in hand to attract as many pilgrims as possible.
The move came in response to the rising number of illegal tour operators.
They also noted some foreign nationals are illegally running Umrah tour businesses by leasing buses from transport companies.
© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.