ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44

Preying on pilgrims: Tour operators must provide improved service

I thank you for highlighting in The Sunday Times of March 18, 2007 many concerns shared by Hajis.

In the article headlined “Preying on pilgrims”, the writers state that “Vice President of the Sri Lanka Hajj Tour Operators Association and Managing Director of F & F Travels, F. Mohamed, however, refuted these allegations”.

While I believe that F&F is a reputed tour organizer, I would like to inform Mr. Mohamed and the public that I performed Haj in December/January, as a member of a group of pilgrims from Kandy, and that we (around 100) languished in Azeeziya (a place far from the grand mosque in Mecca) for three days, while our tour operator was bargain hunting for rooms in Mecca after returning from Mina.

As such, his statement that “About a month before the commencement of the Haj, all tour operators have to visit Saudi Arabia and sort out all procedures, including booking adequate transportation and accommodation facilities for the entire duration of the pilgrimage….” is not true, or at best a commonly violated rule.

There is vast room for improvement of the services provided for the pilgrimage. It is the responsibility of tour groups and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs to ensure that these services are enhanced, instead of denying the shortcomings pointed out to them by disgruntled pilgrims.

By Rumey Jiffrey, Kandy.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.