MAKKAH — The Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) has denied rumors about an artificial accommodation crisis created by tourism service providers in the holy city.
The MCCI said Umrah companies have not been harmed by the high occupancy rates in accommodation facilities in the city since the beginning of the summer vacation. Though some of the hotels overlooking the Grand Mosque have recorded maximum occupancy rates, accommodation is still available in the vicinity of the Holy Haram in the central area of the city.
Ziyad Farsi, Deputy Chairman of MCCI and Spokesman of the National Committee for Haj and Umrah, said the services provided by the Umrah services companies and establishments are competitive. He said occupancy in the hotels and furnished apartments would rise considerably in the coming period with the inflow of more Umrah pilgrims from within the Kingdom and abroad.
Farsi pointed out that Al-Azizia and Al-Shisha areas are the first choice for accommodation of Umrah pilgrims coming from the Gulf countries. He said Umrah pilgrims from Egypt, Pakistan and the rest of the Arab and Muslim countries would be distributed in Jarwal and Misfalah districts.
Farsi pointed out that Umrah pilgrims from within the Kingdom, particularly Saudi nationals, prefer to stay in Mahbas Al-Jinn, Ajyad and the central area in general. This will lead to a rise in rents for accommodation in those areas during the peak days.
Farsi expects brisk trading activity during this period. The high occupancy in hotels and furnished apartments impels shopkeepers to stock up huge quantities of goods to meet the increasing demand. Also, sales in restaurants and gift shops in the vicinity of the Haram goes up tremendously.
Ihab Mashat, member of the Board of Directors of the MCCI, said the Makkah hotel charges could be affordable during the summer vacation. It is expected that prices would increase multifold with the holy month of Ramadan, which is drawing near.
The prices in the city are constantly monitored by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA). However, Umrah pilgrims coming to Makkah always voice fears about the high prices they experience in Ramadan, particularly during the last 10 days of the holy month.
The charges per room could reach SR50,000 for the last ten days of the holy month. He attributed this to the huge influx of pilgrims from the Gulf countries and Saudi citizens from all regions of the country.
He added that these high prices are not only restricted to star hotels, but furnished apartments raise their charges as well.
The Umrah pilgrim has wide options of accommodation in the holy city. According to SCTA statistics, the number of licensed hotels and furnished apartments in Makkah has reached 574 having 115,000 rooms of various classes. The capacity of these residential units exceeds 1.3 million Umrah pilgrims per month.