Contrary to expectations, reservations on trip programs for performing Umrah rituals in tourist offices for the holy month of Ramadan were moderate, despite the number of mitigating measures taken by the Saudi and Jordanian authorities.

The increase in the number of people leaving to perform Umrah was prevented by the increase in its costs by more than 100%, compared to what it was before the Corona pandemic.

Since the beginning of the year, the number of pilgrims has witnessed a recovery compared to the past two years due to the closures of the Corona pandemic, according to specialists.

The religious tourism sector in Jordan began to recover from the pandemic, but slowly, according to the description of tourism companies.

The Umrah season witnessed an increase in reservations and the number of visitors, which reached 40,000 pilgrims from the beginning of the year until the end of last March, compared to 3,500 pilgrims during the year 2021.

Since the beginning of March, the Jordanian authorities have started implementing a package of new mitigating measures in dealing with the Corona virus, most notably: canceling the “PCR” examination (PCR) for those coming to Jordan from the country of arrival through land, air and sea crossings, for Jordanians and others, Which contributed to the revitalization of tourism and Umrah.

high costs

In a tourist bus dedicated to transporting pilgrims in the Abdali area, in the center of the Jordanian capital, Amman, a sixty-year-old Muslim hawk muttered the prayer of travel and laughter in his face, and he chanted the phrases of praise and thanks to God for the world’s recovery from the Corona pandemic, and allowed to go to the holy homes to perform the rituals of Umrah.

The Falcons told Al Jazeera Net, "I used to cry whenever I saw the courtyards of the campus empty of worshiping pilgrims," ​​stressing his keenness to perform Umrah several times during the year before the Corona pandemic, and after a two-year hiatus, the Falcons began their first trips, bidding farewell to his family and lovers.

During the blessed month of Ramadan, Jordanians - like other Arabs and Muslims - accept the rituals of Umrah, but the high visa fees by the Saudi authorities doubled the costs of Umrah trips, according to Umrah companies.

The financial director of Al-Aseel Hajj and Umrah Company, Alaa Al-Atili, described Jordanians’ demand for Umrah trip programs as “good compared to the past two years,” stressing that the fourfold increase in visa costs granted by the Saudi authorities to Umrah pilgrims constitutes an obstacle for many. After the value of the visa was 35 dinars ( 50 dollars), increased to 160 dinars (225 dollars).

With regard to trip prices, Al-Atili said that the costs of Umrah trip programs for 10 nights in the early and middle of Ramadan range between 260 and 350 dinars (366-493 dollars), depending on the distance of accommodation from the two holy mosques.

In the last ten days, the costs rise to range between 360 and 550 dinars ($507-775) by land, and by tourist buses with 30 passengers.

He added that the companies closing their doors and stopping work during the past two years caused huge losses to the Hajj and Umrah companies, expecting that the return of the Umrah trips and the upcoming Hajj season will cover the operating costs of the companies, and alleviate the indebtedness in the sector.

The Saudi authorities, for their part, have eased the precautionary measures for the pandemic by canceling the requirement for a “BCR” examination for those coming to Saudi Arabia, allowing prayer in the sanctuary without a permit, and stopping the application of social distancing measures in the two Holy Mosques, which reduced the costs of Umrah trips and activated the movement of reservations, according to companies. .

The increase in visa fees by the Saudi authorities, raising the costs of Umrah trips by double (Al-Jazeera)

Close hotels

Bilal Rubin, head of the Hajj and Age Committee at the Jordanian Tourism and Travel Agents Association, says that the movement of reservations to perform Umrah rituals at the beginning of the Ramadan season is weak and below expectations, but it is better than last year and bodes well, according to his statements to Al Jazeera Net.

Rubin attributed the reason for this to the economic conditions that Jordanians are going through, and the high costs of housing in Makkah and Madinah hotels since the beginning of Ramadan, as a result of the continued closure of about 60% of Makkah and Madinah hotels.

This led - according to Robin - to double the prices of hotel reservations, after the costs of booking hotel rooms before Ramadan were about 25 dinars (35 dollars), they became more than 50 dinars (70 dollars) in Ramadan, and they are likely to rise in the last ten days, which raised the cost of trips on the pilgrims.

Rubin expected that the demand for Umrah trip programs will increase in the last ten days of the blessed month by land and air, describing the costs of trips as moderate compared to the high operating costs of the offices.

During the previous years and before the Corona pandemic, about 300,000 pilgrims were performing Umrah annually, and the costs of trips ranged between 150 and 250 dinars (211-350 dollars) by land.

Tourism, travel, Hajj and Umrah companies are calling for providing financial support to the sector, and exempting companies from annual licensing fees for the Ministry of Tourism, the Tourism Promotion Authority, the Amman Municipality and the municipalities, in order to sustain and preserve their steadfastness.