Atop hotelier in Saudi Arabia has commended the new guidelines laid out for pilgrims looking to enter the holy city of Makkah.
It was announced earlier this week that only those who are immunised against Covid-19 will be given permits to perform umrah and prayers within the city this year. Stated by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the decision is hoped to “raise the operational capacity of the Grand Mosque” and to “preserve the health and safety of the visitors.
According to Shaza Hotels country GM in Saudi, Amjad Irshaidat, it will do all this and more.
“This is game changer for the hospitality sector in Makkah,” he told Hotelier. “Most of the hotels here depend on Hajj and Umrah seasons as their main revenue streams. It is also a great reflection of the wise leadership and vision of the Saudi authorities by encouraging the public to take the vaccination and protect themselves as well as the community.
“Like other Shaza hotels, Shaza Makkah follows our own strict Shaza Assures programme; a set of strict measures that ensures the safety and health of all guests and staff. Add that to our prime location overlooking the Holy Kaaba, and we are ready to welcome back our guests during the holy month of Ramadan.”
His optimism comes after a long quiet spell for hotels in the city. The developers behind Makkah Hotel and Towers, Makkah Construction and Development Company (MCDC), for example, posted a SAR59 million (US$15.7 million) loss for 2020, struggling to fill its 1,437 rooms while pilgrims stayed at home.
Unlike the annual hajj, the umrah pilgrimage can be done during any time of the year and remains one of the driving forces behind KSA’s religious tourism sector. In 2020 hajj was scaled back for the first time in modern history, where only 1,000 pilgrims were able to perform the ritual in contrast to more than two million in 2019.
Saudi Arabia has currently given out approximately five million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine among its population of 34 million.
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