Umrah operators facilitating travel of pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will have to abide by regulations which the Saudi kingdom is expected to mandate on April 8, 2018. The enforcing of the regulations comes amid numerous allegations of mismanagement made against South African umrah companies in recent weeks.
Speaking to VOC, secretary of the South African Muslim Travel Association, Fazila Malek, explained that registered agents were always expected to abide by the regulations, but that some were not fully compliant.
“We must follow the rules with 100 per cent information of group particulars, especially when we are inserting the information we are suppose doing the factual and accurate conditions for the mu’tamireen, such as when you doing your password details together with your accommodation.”
She said the flight and transportation details of travellers that are forwarded to the Ministry of Haj in the Kingdom also need to be accurate.
“Yes, a lot of us followed the rules in the system. But, obviously [some] bypassed on certain amount of rules; for those who got cheap hotels from Booking.com etc. This is not going to be allowed in the system any longer; it has to be factual of what you are doing for the hotels. Especially the confirmations of the hotels have to be inserted,” Malek stated.
She said that agents will now be required to provide information on a round trip, inclusive of information and confirmation of transport arrangements between airports and hotels.
Agents will be required to supply confirmation of all relevant information:
Malek urged mu’tamireen to book their Umrah with registered agents or companies that have a long-standing history within the industry.
“[Agents] have to follow the rules for the packages or tailor-made packages where they need to have the visa by having the insertion in the system with the stipulated rules that are enforced right now.
This process was on trial from April 1, 2018, and will be mandatory from April 8.
“The external agent will be suspended while exceeding (1%) the delay of the pilgrims for the duration of their actual program approved from the system and therefore will be the suspension of the State of the external agent and the Saudi company until the descent from the rate prescribed by the Ministry of Hajj.
“The system of suspension of the external agent and the Saudi company and the suspension of the system will be applied to them for (48 hours) in the case of upload in the system of one record per day. (The difference of the Umrah program) And therefore the suspension of all external agents belongs to the Saudi company. For example (if the issuing hotel has a two-star reference number and is actually housed in a five-star hotel) Will be suspended for (48 hours).”