Restrictions placed on travelers to Umrah during the holy month of Ramadan would have a severe impact on travel to and from Saudi Arabia.
Chief executive officer of Fursan Travel, Mr. Roger Pfund, said that recent developments by Egypt, Iran, and Iraq to partially suspend visa applications would ultimately lead to a reduction in travelers to the kingdom.
“The decision to ban people traveling due to the H1N1 flu pandemic is respected, however, the longer-term impact on the economy here cannot be understated,” Mr. Pfund said.
“Those who travel during the holy month of Ramadan for Umrah provide a significant boost to our tourism industry. With these restrictions in place, travelers will ultimately look to alternate destinations outside the kingdom or defer travel until 2010.”
Mr. Pfund said that based on current trends, passenger numbers could be down by almost thirty percent on last year’s Ramadan period. “Our own analysis of airline and hotel requirements during the next four weeks suggests there is a significant travel decline against the same period last year,” he said.
“Organizations such as Fursan Travel will be monitoring this situation closely and working with local suppliers and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities to ensure tourism demand returns quickly,” Mr. Pfund said.