Tour operators decry umrah visa racketeering

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Some independent tour operators in Nigeria have decried the racketeering in umrah visa processing which makes it difficult for Nigerians willing to embark on the umrah trip to get the visa.

They said that with the umrah visa, which hitherto cost N250,000, currently sold as high as N2m, it was of concern as most Nigerian Muslims were finding it difficult to obtain the visa; noting that it was unhealthy for Nigeria’s hajj and umrah industry.

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) last week confirmed a shortage of umrah visas for Nigerian Muslims.

In a statement, the commission’s Assistant Director of Public Affairs, Fatima Sanda Usara, said the commission would continue to work tirelessly in collaboration with stakeholders to find a satisfactory resolution to the visa inaccessibility.

She explained that the high demand for the umrah visa during the Ramadan exacerbated the shortage.

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Commenting on the development, the CEO of Mohdibra Travels, Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim, attributed the challenge to official ineptitude, stating that NAHCON was not forceful enough thereby allowing selfish agents in Saudi Arabia to racketeer the umrah visa to the detriment of approved and licensed tour operators in Nigeria.

Ibrahim, therefore, called for the intervention of the federal government to protect the Nigerian licenced tour operators from the Saudi Arabian authorities.

He further said, “We the tour operators pay charges to the Nigerian government and Saudi Arabia. So, why are non-registered Licensed Tour Operators (LTOs) accessing the visa portal and we are here left with passengers and accruing losses running into billions.

“Secondly, the visa costs between eight and nine hundred riyal on the system; that is in the portal for hajj and umrah, but are being sold by different agents in Saudi Arabia between 1,500 and 2,000 riyal; which is equivalent to N620,000.

“So, the agent that is printing visas in Saudi Arabia and selling to Nigerians; where did he get his permission from to send visas to people in Nigeria? People are sending money to Saudi Arabia to buy visas for umrah and we the registered licensed agents in Nigeria can’t access the portal while the agents in Saudi Arabia are using our licences to operate the portal.”


Source link: Daily Trust/

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