UmrahHolidays ups B2B reach in China

WebBeds, the world’s second largest B2B accommodation provider, has sealed two landmark partnership agreements that will boost the fast-growing halal travel and Umrah pilgrimage sector in China.

UmrahHolidays International (UHI) is a recent addition to the WebBeds global family, providing B2B solutions to travel agencies worldwide, including hotels, visas, meet and greet services, transfers and sightseeing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The partnership opens even more opportunities with two key Chinese travel companies: Haoqiao, one of the largest wholesale players in China with an extensive nationwide network of more than 17,000 retail travel agents, and Mafengwo, a highly influential online travel agency (OTA) which has been nicknamed the “TripAdvisor of China”, with over 130 million registered users who generate three terabytes of data daily.

Under the new partnerships, Haoqiao will become the official retail distributor of UHI in China, while Mafengwo will be the company’s exclusive OTA partner. Together, this combination of widespread online and retail distribution will enable UHI to extend its reach across China, where international tourism is becoming increasingly popular among the country’s estimated 20 million Muslims.

“China is a hugely exciting market for UHI, WebBeds, and the global halal travel sector. By forming partnerships with two of the country’s leading online and retail travel companies, UHI can now cater to customers in every corner of China, however they choose to book. We look forward to working with Haoqiao and Mafengwo, and enabling thousands of Muslims in China to make their important Umrah pilgrimage,” commented Daryl Lee, CEO Asia Pacific, WebBeds.

“We understand that for many Muslims, the Umrah pilgrimage is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But all too often the planning and booking process can be complex and daunting. UHI’s deep local knowledge, global network and multilingual team will take away the stress. Chinese customers can rest assured that they will enjoy a full range of professional services from four of the most trusted names in the industry: WebBeds, UmrahHolidays International, Haoqiao and Mafengwo,” said Aly Siky, CEO, UHI.

“China has a large and vibrant Muslim population, and an increasing number are now looking for opportunities to make their pilgrimages to the holy lands of Saudi Arabia. This is a growing sector of the market, so we are delighted to become the exclusive OTA partner of UHI in China. We expect to see a sharp rise in online bookings for Umrah travel following this collaboration,” said Yu HongShang, senior director, Mafengwo.

“An Umrah pilgrimage is a major milestone in the lives of many Chinese Muslims, so it is vital that they are offered the face-to-face contact and personalised service that a traditional travel agency can provide. At Haoqiao, we work with the largest network of retail agents in China. Our new partnership with UHI will enable our clients and their customers to receive the best possible support from experts in the Umrah travel sector,” added Yu ZhangTao, CEO, Haoqiao.

The Umrah is an important Islamic pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Unlike the Hajj, which has to be performed on specific dates, the Umrah can be undertaken at any time of the year.