Saudi companies licensed to provide Umrah services are now seriously considering merger proposals, following big losses estimated at more than SR150 million ($40 million) suffered by them during the past three months.
Representatives of the companies attending an annual meeting here confirmed a plan to merge the companies to strengthen their position in the market a local report said.
They said "some sort of a merger agreement has already been reached".
The companies said business was deeply affected by the September 11 attacks in the US and subsequent events.
Conflicts between Saudi companies and their foreign agents have also affected business.
It said Yasser Al Kholi, executive president of Labbaik Ñ one of the companies specialised in Umrah and Haj services Ñ called for more co-operation between the companies to maximize the use of the new Umrah system.
He said more than 900,000 pilgrims had come to perform Umrah this year under various Umrah companies.
The government has licensed 250 companies to offer the service. But nearly 15 per cent of them have yet to start their operations.
The Ministry of Haj recently closed and fined 25 Umrah companies for neglecting their contractual obligations to pilgrims.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.