Tour operators partner NAHCON for hitch-free hajj

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Oyetunji Abioye

Tour operators under the aegis Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria have collaborated with the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria to train members of the association to ensure a hitch-free operation this year.

The National President, AHUON, Alhaji Majeed AbdulFattah, said the training seminar was meant to make tour operators conversant with developments in Information and Communication Technology in relation to the processing of visa for intending pilgrims.

AbdulFattah said this during his opening remarks at the beginning of the training in Lagos.

“About three to four years ago, visa processing for intending pilgrims was done manually. Now, it is online through a platform called E-track,” he said.

“We have gathered the ICT staff and directors of operators of the various hajj operators for this workshop,” he added

According to the AHUON president, the online system is better than the manual method because it now takes four days to process visa for intending pilgrims instead of 18 days on the average.

On the challenges facing tour operators, AbdulFattah said there was a need for the Central Bank of Nigeria to create a special foreign exchange window for members of the association to access dollars and make payments overseas.

He said the era when operators carried huge cash from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia to make payments for services purchased on behalf of intending pilgrims should be over.

“We are engaging in a legitimate business. We should not have problem accessing and transferring forex,” he said.

According to the AHUON leader, there is a need for the Federal Government to sign a bilateral trade agreement with the Saudi Arabia to engender better business relations between companies from both countries.

AbdulFattah advised intending pilgrims for this year’s hajj to be good ambassadors of the country and mind their business.

The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, NAHCON, Mr. Mukhtar Mohammad, said preparations were on top gear to ensure a hitch-free Hajj and Umrah operations this year.

According to him, the training in E-tracking and medical requirements for intending pilgrims is part of the activities lined up for the year to ensure that Muslims going for the religious programme get value for money.

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