Umrah packages soar on Ramadan’s last ten days

4178The cost of Umrah packages are soaring during the latter part of Ramadan, whether for basic transportation and lodging or for high-end, five-star luxury hotels.

Umrah travel operators in the capital, for instance, have increased pilgrim packages by 150 percent.

Indeed, Umrah packages cost SR90 outside the peak season, but a return fare from Riyadh to Makkah on luxury coach, including accommodation, will now cost SR220 per pilgrim and there will be an additional charge of SR20 if pilgrims wish to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

The influx of pilgrims, however, is slated to subside with the advent of the Eid festivities. The peak season also coincides with the summer holidays this year.

As such, a large number of vacationers, including Saudis, have showed up at Makkah, exacerbating the crowding problem.

Meanwhile, a leading hotelier in Makkah told Arab News that hotels are nearing 100 percent occupancy at the end of the holy month.

“A 10-day package during this period costs a minimum of SR18,000,” he said. “In addition, the hotel charges SR2,200 a night for walk-in guests.”

“Accommodation at five-star hotels will cost anywhere between SR31,000 and SR40,000 during the latter part of Ramadan, which includes two meals,” said another hotelier.

Pilgrims come mainly from within the Kingdom, as well as from the Gulf countries. Muslims from countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia are also coming.

“There are less pilgrims coming from Iraq and Syria due to the turmoil that has plagued the region,” he said.

Local hotels in Madinah, in liaison with local tour operators, have arranged city tours to historical sites.

According to one sales executive from Al-Rushd, a travel operator in the city, weekend packages to Makkah and Madinah begin at 4 p.m. from Riyadh on Thursday and end on Saturday at midnight.

There are nearly 275 Umrah travel operators spread out in the capital, with most concentrated in the Batha area.

The Dawah Center in Rawdah arranged for 45 coaches to ferry Umrah pilgrims from the capital free of charge.

Moulavi Ramzan from the center said that the beneficiaries of this program are mainly singles from Asian and Arab countries. Accommodation, transport and iftar will also be provided, he said.

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