Bandar Seri Begawan - Bruneians wishing to perform the Umrah must purchase their packages through certified travel operators to prevent issues such as turning down of travelling visas from occurring.
At the Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday, Minister of Religious Affairs, YB Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman responded to a concern raised by YB Awang Haji Mohd Shafiee bin Ahmad over the significant number of individuals who were denied their travel visas for Umrah this year.
It is also understood that some have already made full payments to the respective travel operators but their monies have not been refunded to date.
The minister clarified that local travel operators offering Umrah packages must obtain an 'IATA' licence, which has been a requirement from the Saudi Arabian Government to enable the issuance of their travel visas. "This has come to the attention of the local travel operators since five years ago and we currently have two IATA certified operators licensed to offer Umrah packages namely Darussalam Holdings and SCA Sdn Bhd," the minister said.
He further clarified that over the years, the two certified travel operators have been allowing other travel operators to ride on to their licensing rights, enabling them to offer Umrah packages to their customers. "But this practice has been discontinued since early this year due to strict regulations from the Saudi Arabian Government," he said. This move, the minister explained, is to protect the certified companies from taking responsibility in any misconduct or actions by the other operators using their licences that may jeopardise their licensing rights. "If these companies (other operators) have problems that may arise in the future, the blame would be on the licence holders and their licence could be at risk of suspension," the minister said.
The minister went on to advise other travel operators offering Umrah packages to obtain the IATA licence to enable them to offer such packages.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin