50 per cent dip in reservations despite slashed rates
Srinagar, Jan 01 (KNO): Umrah tour operators in Kashmir are grappling with subdued response this season with heavy slump in the bookings.
As per news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), this is despite the fact that the rate of Umrah package this year is comparatively Rs 10,000 low compared to the previous year.
Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken any time of the year.
Typically, the Umrah season, i,e from December to March, in Kashmir sees a surge in bookings and enthusiasm as devout Muslims embark on a spiritual journey to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. However, this year has proven to be an exception, with tour operators facing unexpected challenges that have resulted in a substantial decline in the number of pilgrims.
As per the Umrah tour operators of Kashmir, very few people have turned to book Umrah packages this season.
“We would often get bookings for Umrah starting in October. It is December and we receive very few people who opt for Umrah. From Srinagar, we receive very few pilgrims compared to the rest of the valley,” president Jammu and Kashmir Association of Hajj Umrah Companies, Sheikh Feroz told KNO.
He said they witnessed a notable 50% decrease in the flow of pilgrims compared to the previous year.
“We anticipate the overall flow of pilgrims this season will be almost 50 percent less compared to last year. This year, we have bookings to some extent in January but it is too low in February. We didn’t have enough advance bookings,” Feroz said.
He said the flow of pilgrims last year was satisfactory as the rush was the highest since Covid-19.
“Umrah services were affected during the pandemic. Last year, there were no restrictions and the flow of pilgrims was huge. We are still hopeful that booking may improve in February and March,” Feroz said.
Lateef Ahmad, an Umrah tour operator, said they have slashed the prices of Umrah this year to attract more pilgrims.
“Still the flow is not up to the mark. Post covid-19 Kashmir saw a good hike in the number of pilgrims performing Umrah. This year, it seems people are financially stressed due to which the flow is very low,” he said.
Pertinently, a total of 18 lakh Indian Muslims performed Umrah in 2023 — the third highest in the world, Saudi Arabia government officials earlier said—(KNO)