Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, CEO of Elaf Group
With the number of Umrah visas issued by embassies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia this year reaching 5.67 million with more than 5 million already having entered the Kingdom, hospitality experts and local travel operators are seeing a surge in travel bookings to Makkah and Madinah in 2016 and are expecting a further increase over the coming weeks towards the end of Ramadan.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah recently announced that Umrah pilgrims this year could reach up to 7 million, with more than 1.2 million coming from Egypt followed by more than 900,000 visas issued to pilgrims from Pakistan and around 655,000 visas issued to Indonesians. The Ministry noted that this year has already recorded a 5 per cent rise in Umrah pilgrims – a figure that is expected to soar 30 per cent by 2020.
Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, CEO, Elaf Group, said: “The travel and tourism sector is feeling the heat as the volume of Umrah pilgrims rushing to book visits to the Kingdom has continued to swell over the past months. The upcoming summer holidays which also coincide with the Holy Month of Ramadan have kept travel operators very busy at this time. We are anticipating even brisker business towards the end of the month.”
“In line with our commitment to support the tourism sector - especially religious tourism - the Elaf Group has stepped up its efforts to ensure our staff is well-prepared to address the needs of the pilgrims and promptly provide them with the services and comfort they hope to experience at this time – enjoying a relaxing stay amidst the religious ambience in our hotels in Makkah and Madinah. Our Group has continuously been expanding its services and number of rooms to accommodate the needs of our customers who can avail of special packages and activities for the whole family as they seek a meaningful Umrah experience, especially during Ramadan,” Bin Mahfouz concluded.