(MENAFN - Arab News) Ministry of Haj has instructed all Haj and Umrah companies to submit their operational agendas for next year's season within one month.
The ministry wanted the companies to identify the nationalities that will be provided services in 2013; spell out the number of agencies they will have outside the Kingdom and the number of Umrah visas issued during the season. Companies have also been requested to provide details of accommodation and transportation contracts.
The ministry will start issuing visas next month for licensed Umrah companies through the Umrah Companies Affairs Department. The visas will be issued in the light of the department's records of last years. It will also take into account any complaints filed by pilgrims and Umrah visitors against the companies.
The ministry coordinates with the Passport Department before issuing visas to make sure that Umrah visitors brought by the companies did not overstay their visas during the previous season.
The ministry said in a letter sent to companies that the number of Umrah visitors had increased during the past eight months by 18 percent. Last year, 5.5 millions visitors came to the Kingdom for Umrah while the year before 4.1 million visitors came.