(MENAFN - Arab News) Workers at various domestic pilgrim service agencies have estimated that domestic Saudi and expatriate pilgrims spend about SR 22 billion on their pilgrimage every year. There are no accurate studies on the matter, they said.
Domestic pilgrims differ in what they pay for a Haj trip according to the package they book. Several domestic Haj companies offer low-cost packages as well as expensive ones that exceed SR 20,000 per person.
The 15 companies that offer the low-cost Haj services have stopped accepting applications since earlier this year, saying that locations are full. Guidance and Islamic call offices had reserved many locations for groups of new Muslims and other groups these offices serve, the companies said.
The low-cost Haj affiliated companies had met with the Minister of Haj and received promises to improve the program next year and increase companies' quotas, said Mohammad Abdullah Abu Sarhad, a company official, adding that prices would be fixed after a thorough study of the program had been carried out.
Sarhad said that those who want to apply for the low-cost package should personally go to the company's offices because many of the employees in these companies ignore phone requests due to the high demand of people coming themselves to make reservations.
Ali Sa'ad, receptionist at one of the companies, said companies prefer groups over individuals because dealing with the former is easier in terms of transportation and organization.
Many people are asking for an increasing in the number of low-cost-Haj places available, either by increasing the number of companies offering the service or increasing their quotas. A company is issued permits for 500 to 2,000 low-cost pilgrim packages, said company officials.