Hajj and Umrah tour operator Mawasim, part of Almosafer – Seera Group’s travel platform, has recorded strong growth in Umrah bookings, with its new offices in Indonesia and Pakistan driving significant growth in pilgrim arrivals. The two countries are also the top international markets for Umrah bookings for Mawasim in 2022.
Unveiling the new trends in Umrah travel at the 2023 Conference & Exhibition for Hajj and Umrah Services (Hajj Expo), the largest conference and exhibition for Hajj and Umrah services, Mawasim forecast exceptional growth for the coming year, with pilgrim arrivals from focus markets including Egypt, Algeria, India, Turkey, Malaysia, Iraq and Jordan, in addition to Indonesia and Pakistan.
At Hajj Expo, organised by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Mawasim is showcasing its competencies and proven track record in delivering seamless Umrah services for pilgrims from around the world. The company reported strong growth in the last two quarters of 2022, despite the late start of Umrah, welcoming nearly 31,000 pilgrims from 43 countries and working with over 214 agents.
Pilgrims accounted for a total of 81,730 room nights across 114 hotels with the largest number of bookings coming from Pakistan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Singapore and Egypt.
With travel restrictions limiting Umrah arrivals from inbound markets during the pandemic, pilgrims have returned to make the most of their spiritual trips to Makkah and Madinah with group trips averaging 8 days and 40 passengers per booking.
The increase in Umrah travel follows recent reforms in Saudi Arabia permitting visitors to perform Umrah on any visa, in addition to general visa policies that have eased access to the Kingdom with residents of the GCC now being able to obtain a visa on arrival.
Mawasim’s successful integration of Maqam, the official global distribution platform of the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, has led to an increase in online adoption from its customers, with Mawasim’s online portal offering users a seamless experience.
The Maqam portal has generated demand for Mawasim’s ‘Umrah+’ packages, which provide pilgrims with an enhanced all-in-one trip combining Umrah and leisure. Umrah+ offers city tours of Makkah, Madinah and Taif, which are amongst the most popular activities. There is a growing appetite from pilgrims to explore such attractions in their Kingdom during their visit.
Mawasim is now also live on the Nusuk platform on both individual and business channels. Nusuk is the first-ever official planning, booking and experience platform, developed as part of the Pilgrimage Experience Program under Vision 2030, which creates an Umrah itinerary to Makkah, Madina, and beyond. Travellers from all over the world can easily organise their entire visit, from applying for an eVisa to booking hotels and flights.
Muzzammil Ahussain, EVP of Almosafer, said: "Hajj Expo 2023 is an excellent opportunity to connect with stakeholders in the industry and to work together to enhance the Hajj and Umrah travel experience. We are showcasing our track record in driving strong bookings from international markets by operating with our extensive network of agents. We look forward to strengthening our role as a strategic partner in enhancing bookings, and our latest data reveals that demand for Umrah travel continues to grow. We will continue to meet this demand by expanding our offering and leveraging our decades of experience to ensure that every pilgrim experiences an unforgettable journey."
Data from Almosafer’s consumer segment, the Middle East’s leading travel brand, also highlights the growing demand for Umrah travel, with an increase in hotel and flight bookings for the cities of Makkah and Madinah on its platforms. GBV for these two cities has increased by 30% in 2022 compared to 2019.