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Early numbers for umrah trips ‘not promising’, says JSTA

Stakeholders remain hopeful for demand spike at end of Ramadan

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Mar 26,2023 - Last updated at Mar 26,2023

Demand for umrah during this Ramadan is ‘extremely low’, travel agency manager Omar Abu Diab told The Jordan Times (JT File Photo)

AMMAN — Local demand for umrah trips during the month of Ramadan is still below expectations, according to the Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents (JSTA). 

JSTA member Isam Al Shaer said that the society predicted that around 50,000 Jordanian pilgrims would perform umrah (the lesser Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca), during Ramadan this year.

“Early numbers aren’t promising. However, that might change, as we’re still in the first third of Ramadan,” he told The Jordan Times. 

In 2017 and 2018, the number of umrah pilgrims exceeded 130,000 during Ramadan and reached 500,000 by the end of the year, according to Shaer. 

 “But a lot has changed since then,” he noted. “For example, the Umrah visa fees have increased from JD30 to JD130 since 2017”.

The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the tough economic situation — which is reflected in people’s purchasing power — “might” also be among the factors contributing to the reduced demand, he added. 

However, the first two and a half months of 2023 witnessed a notable rise in umrah trips, with up to 100,000 pilgrims. In 2022, only 45,000 pilgrims performed the practice throughout the entire year, Shaer continued. 

“Currently, umrah trips cost around JD320 by a regular bus and roughly JD520 by plane,” he said, noting that demand “soars” during the last 10 days of Ramadan, which causes prices to go up by around JD100. 

Shaer also pointed out that operators are dealing with a shortage of buses, which is one of the reasons for the increase in the prices of umrah trips, especially with the high number of international tourists coming to Jordan. 

He added that the proximity of pilgrims’ hotel of choice to the Masjid Al Haram, also known as the Grand Mosque or the Great Mosque of Mecca, impacts the cost of umrah packages; “the closer the hotel, the higher the price”.

Omar Abu Diab, the manager of a travel agency that organises umrah trips, agreed that demand during this Ramadan is “extremely low”. 

He also pointed out that the shortage of buses in the Kingdom will pose an issue during the last third of Ramadan, which always witnesses an increased demand for umrah trips. 

“Prices of umrah trips only increased 5 to 7 per cent during Ramadan. However, this shortage will cause bus tickets to double in price during the last 10 days of the month,” Abu Diab told The Jordan Times. 

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