Saudi Government Imposes 550 Visa Fees for Omra Pilgrims

Casablanca –  The Saudi government has decided to impose a visa fee for the popular religious pilgrimage that is the Omra. This measure affects Moroccans who wish to perform Omra, as well as an important Moroccan industry.Moroccans who wish to travel to Morocco for the Omra pilgrimage will now have to pay visa fees ranging from 5,000 to 5,500 dirhams, enough to dissuade many travelers and affecting, in no small capacity, the travel agency business.According to the Moroccan daily, L’Economiste, Omra travel is a 1.8 billion dirham industry in Morocco, an important one to say the least. Traveling to Mecca is already no easy task. During the year, traveling to Mecca costs an average of 12,000 dirhams. However, during the Holy month of Ramadan, the Omra costs Moroccans an average of 20,000 dirhams. Another 5,000 dirhams may not be an easy cost to bear for many aspiring to achieve this significant religious ritual.According to Le Site Info, religious tourism represents 30 to 80 percent of travel agency business. Last year, approximately 78,000 Moroccans went to Mecca on Omra.As a result of this new visa fee, travel agencies expect to see a loss of 300 million dirhams next year. As a way to potentially offset the overall cost, agencies are planning to negotiate hotel fees with Saudi hotels.

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