During all three phases, the ministry said, strict health precautions will be enforced.
Benten said the ministry stands by all the people — investors and workers — involved in the sector during this time of institutional transformation. It wants, he added, to empower Umrah companies and related organizations to become strong economic entities that provide high-quality services through the I’tamarna application, which will make it easier for pilgrims to book their journeys.
Benten said more than 30 local and international companies will provide services to the pilgrims through an electronic platform that will enable the service providers to carry out the necessary follow-up while serving pilgrims. He added that Umrah companies and institutions serve more than 16 million pilgrims from the Kingdom, the region and the rest of the world.
During the initial phase, the Umrah operations will remain at 40 percent of the actual capacity under normal circumstances.
He also stressed the importance of early registration for Umrah, and said that Umrah companies are responsible for conducting studies to identify the needs of pilgrims, including those who arrive through transit countries. Citizens of 80 countries can now visit the Kingdom for Umrah without requiring a visa and this number will rise, Benten added.
Abddulfattah Mashat, the deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, said that a forum had been organized, titled “Managing Institutional Change and Transformation in the Umrah Sector,” with the aim of enriching the experience of Umrah pilgrims. The economics of Hajj and Umrah are not limited to the services provided to pilgrims but also include many other optional services and logistics, he added
The ministry is working to manage the institutional transformation effectively, improve services, enrich the experience and enhance the sustainability of the sector to serve more pilgrims.
Mashat said that in 2019, 5.3 million Saudi citizens, 6.4 million expats, 1.2 million residents of Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and 7.5 million people from other parts of the world performed Umrah.
He said pilgrims traveling from other nations previously had to go through an agent and a registered Umrah company to obtain a visa and make other arrangements. However, the ministry is taking steps to improve the entire system, he added.
As part of the planned transformation of the sector, Mashat said that an Umrah company will be able to acquire existing companies and either merge with them under its name, or form a new entity.
In light of this transformation of the sector, he stressed the need for businesses to change the concept of the services they provide and develop new business models.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is syndicated or provided to this website from an external third party provider. We are not responsible for, and do not control, such external websites, entities, applications or media publishers. The body of the text is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis and has not been edited in any way. Neither we nor our affiliates guarantee the accuracy of or endorse the views or opinions expressed in this article. Read our full disclaimer policy here.
© Arab News 2020