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Ministry of Hajj to issue Umrah refunds amid Covid 19 outbreak

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The president of the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) Shaheen Essop has reiterated that refunds for umrah travellers will be provided and that it is imperative that mutamireen go back to the operator they booked with. The Ministry of Hajj has assured aspiring Mu’tamireen that umrah visa fees and service charges will be refunded accordingly. This follows the Saudi Kingdom’s temporary suspension of entry into the country following the outbreak of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

“They (Saudi officials) certainly have come out publically indicating that they will refund visa fees and service charges,” said Essop.

The reassurance comes amid worries that pilgrims might not get their money back. But he reassured mu’tamireen that anybody that has booked through an accredited travel operator for a visa and/or has purchased one will get all of their monies back.

Essop said the onus lies on Mu’tamireen to go back to their travel operators and start the refunding process.

However, Essop warned that if Mu’tamireen had opted to travel with unaccredited travel operators the option of refunding fees may not be as simple, as the sole discretion of refunding now lies with the operator.

“If people booked with operators that are not accredited they run their own risk in this particular regard,” said Essop.

Normally people flock to operators that offer cheaper packages but like Essop has warned “Goedkoop is Duurkoop,” and reminds aspiring Mu’tamireen that this can be used as a prime example of how traveling with an accredited travel operator should not be taken lightly.

“That accredited operator has a counterpart in the kingdom who is registered with the Ministry of Hajj and who has a responsibility in terms of the Mu’tamireen,” he explained.

Essop continued by saying there is a sequence of events that needs to be understood and that is that exists solely for the protection of the Mu’tamireen.

Lastly, Essop dispelled the rumors going around that the travel ban will affect Hajj 1441.

“At this point in time there is no official news from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia that this particular Covid 19 block is going to affect the Hajj”.

This announcement follows an urgent meeting with travel operators that was hosted by The South African Haj and Umrah Operators Association (SATHOA) late last week. The assembly saw various travel operators frantic as the news came into effect that South Africans would not be allowed to undertake the auspicious journey of Umrah due to world-wide suspension of travel to the Saudi Kingdom owed to the ever-growing spread of the Coronavirus or Covid-19.


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