Pricey hotels culprit in rising Haj cost in Brunei, says minister
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
EXPENSIVE hotel accommodation in Saudi Arabia fuelled the rising prices of Haj package in the sultanate, the religious affairs minister said.
During the 12th Session of the Legislative Council yesterday, Yang Berhormat Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awang Badaruddin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Awang Othman said that the package has become expensive since the pilgrims’ placement is walking distance to Masjidil Haram.
“With the placement that is near to Masjidil Haram and Masjid Nabawi in Medina, as well as accommodation in Arafat and Mina, it gives comfort to the pilgrims from Brunei,” said the minister.
The ministry is also aware that members of the public are comparing the Haj packages in Brunei with other ASEAN countries.
“The (Brunei) package is expensive because it’s already premium, and if you compare it with other countries, our premium Haj package is not expensive as what people claim,” he said
YB Pehin Dato Badaruddin urged local travel agencies to offer non-prime packages that would be affordable to many.
Currently, there are four registered companies that have been appointed to operate Haj and Umrah packages. They are Darussalam Holdings Sdn Bhd, Straits Central Agencies (B) Sdn Bhd, Continental Yachting Sdn Bhd and Raudah Al-Amin Sdn Bhd.
The Brunei Times contacted one of the travel agencies, and was told that the rising Haj package in Brunei was also due to the expensive hotel in Mekah a as well as accomodations in Mina and Arafah. “Hotel prices in Saudi Arabia are increasing from time to time. The rental for camps in Arafat and Mina are also pricey. We have to follow the price rates given from Saudi Arabia,” said an official from the Darussalam Holdings who doesn’t want to be named. The company offers two packages, the Delima and Zamrud. Last year, the Delima package (premium) costs $18,000 and Zamrud package (economy) was $12,500. Both packages are inclusive of hotels that are very close to the mosque.
The minister said the price for the Haj economy package in previous years range from $7,000 to $9,000
For cheaper accomodation package, it should be far from the mosque, the company official suggested. The company official cited that pilgrims from other countries such as Malaysia used buses from their hotel to go to the mosque. The official sai d that Malaysia’s prime Haj package costs RM100,000 ($33,246).
The Brunei Times