Singaporeans Affected By Saudi Umrah Suspension Should Get Help From Travel Agents

Performing the Umrah, or lesser pilgrimage, is an important event in a Muslim’s life. A lot goes into it — spiritual, physical, and not to mention financial preparation.

To have such an important trip cancelled at the last minute is surely the last thing anyone would hope for.

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Sadly for more than 2,000 Singaporeans, that was exactly what happened after Saudi Arabia suspended Umrah pilgrimage arrivals on Thursday (27 Feb).

Since the temporary ban came abruptly, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) is now trying to rectify the problem.

Umrah plans on hold due to suspension

Singaporeans who have booked the Umrah in upcoming weeks may be looking forward to the holy trip.

But news of the suspension in Saudi Arabia due to the global Covid-19 spread became a dampener to their plans.

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According to a MUIS advisory on 27 Feb, the Kingdom has already stopped distributing visas to Singaporean travellers, so the suspension is in full swing.

Understanding the people’s possible frustrations, MUIS has engaged local travel agents to help address their concerns.

Some have taken steps to contact customers, like Hagel Travel & Tours, which met with customers over the weekend on 29 Feb and 1 Mar to explain the situation.

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Other agencies may have their own procedures in place, so customers should refer to them accordingly.

Visa refunds available, but airlines and hotels uncertain

In recent developments, Saudi Arabia has set up an online portal to facilitate visa fee and service charge refunds, reported Gulf News on Sunday (1 Mar).

This way, people can recover at least a portion of their expenditure.

They would still have to go through local travel agents first, however, as the process may be rather complex.

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The procedure is also in line with MUIS’ advisory to consult the respective travel agents “for the necessary adjustments and remedies where possible”.

According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), each agency will manage the situation differently.

While they try their best to get refunds for flight tickets and hotel bookings, these are subject to the airlines’ and hotels’ discretion.

Be patient & await further notifications

The Association of Muslim Travel Agents Singapore (AMTAS) which manages travel agencies in charge of pilgrimages, is still in talks about steps to take.

Since Saudi Arabia is reviewing measures, it’s best not to take any rash actions and wait for further updates.

We’re sure the travel agencies will get in touch with pilgrims soon, and sort out all the things necessary.

Featured image adapted from Hajj & Umrah Planner.