The departure of the first batch of Umrah pilgrims from Indonesia during the COVID-19 pandemic will require an optimal mitigation strategy, director-general of Hajj and Umrah at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Hilman Latief, has said.
“The Ministry of Religious Affairs, as the regulator that is in charge of protecting pilgrims, must be careful in mitigating,” he said at an online dialogue, which was accessed here on Tuesday.
The departure of the first batch of pilgrims would guarantee the departure of a larger number of pilgrims in the future because it will test the control system for the departure strategy for Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage designed by the governments of Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, he added.
The first departure of Umrah pilgrims amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which was initially scheduled for December 23, 2021, had to be postponed due to the Omicron threat, he informed.
The first departure must be prepared well from December, starting from the collection of data on pilgrims, payments, porters, and other requirements, he said.
“The mitigation in January must be prepared well to test the system that we will implement. Hopefully, we can send a small group to study the situation in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
He stressed the government’s commitment to maintaining and encouraging the economic ecosystem of Hajj and Umrah optimally through the drafting of policies.
“In the last two years, we have experienced various obstacles. We are trying to revive the economic ecosystem of Hajj and Umrah through diplomatic efforts to convey the aspirations of the Indonesian people who long to perform Umrah,” he remarked.
The diplomatic effort that the Ministry of Religious Affairs previously undertook involved coordination for ensuring the readiness and validity of pilgrims’ travel documents required by Saudi Arabia, he said.