NAHCON’s Head of Public Affairs, Fatima Sanda Usara, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja after review meeting of 2019 Hajj and first preparatory meeting on 2020 Hajj firstly on Thursday, October 24, 2019 with Chief Executives of State Pilgrims’ Welfare Boards/Agencies/Commissions (SPWB/A/Cs) and another on Tuesday 29th of same month with Licensed Tour Operators.
Usara said the NAHCON had also resolved that SPWBs would be allowed to conduct Umrah operations to boost their revenue generation at the state level.
She said that they must however, have dedicated and certified staff to run the Umrah services and must also run separate accounts for Hajj and Umrah, adding that NAHCON will monitor the accounts to ensure full compliance and proper utilization of the funds.
The commission said tour operators have up to November 30 to submit online application forms for 2020 Hajj license to avoid disqualification.
The statement read, “The following are some of the issues discussed. On Makkah/Madina accommodation, it was agreed that funds for booking of lodgings would be deposited early and directly to building owners for cheaper bargains. During operations, each state must deploy a minimum of one official to Madinah in advance of its pilgrims’ arrival for smoother coordination.
“On the issue of Masha’ir: in reference to the retreat in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa, the Commission lamented the several requests for extension of deadline for registration as compounding the Mina congestion problem. Therefore NAHCON cautioned both state boards and Licensed Tour Operators to abide by early registration and to stick to deadlines. The Commission assured that if this arrangement is respected, there is certainty that service providers in Saudi Arabia will reserve adequate space for pilgrims as requested in a formal communication.
“It is in relation to this that the Commission approved status quo to be maintained on remittance of Hajj fare; deadline for closure of registration will be announced in due course. Intending pilgrims are to deposit about N1.5m in three installments to their states’ pilgrims’ boards in bank draft.
“As for Licensed Tour Operators, due to number of complaints received from pilgrims on services being rendered not being commensurate with package paid for, measures have been taken to ensure that the package a pilgrim pays for is what will be served to them. Towards this, the Commission will define types of packages available and cost of each. The packages will be publicised in the mass media.”