Independent Hajj Reporters, (IHR), a civil society organisation that monitors and reports about Hajj activities have pleaded with the federal government to include private tour operators within the Hajj and Umrah industry in the N50 Billion palliative meant to cushion the effect of Coronavirus Pandemic on small businesses.
This was contained in a statement signed by its national coordinator Ibrahim Muhammad on Wednesday, 1 April, 2020.
The statement said the ban on Umrah by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has impacted negatively on private tour operators in the country which have resulted in huge revenue loss.
“It is noted that some of these Hajj and Umrah tour operators have made financial commitments to airlines and hotels before the announcement of the ban.
”Though the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has promised a refund, this does not include losses in terms of revenue and other logistics that have been expended before the ban.
”Currently, there are about 250 registered private tour operators within the Hajj and Umrah industry, with over 20, 000 people directly or indirectly surviving under these companies, ” the statement said.
The Civil Society Organisation, therefore, urge the Federal government to make a special provision within the N50 Billion palliative to help these companies’ stay afloat during and after the Coronavirus induced financial meltdown.
It will be recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria has Created a N50bn targeted credit relief facility for households and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) hard hit by COVID-19. Including but not limited to hoteliers, airline service providers, health care merchants, etc.
”Hajj and Umrah Tour Operators should be grouped alongside hoteliers and airline service providers as their business is centred on the two criteria outlined by CBN, ” IHR said