The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, has assured Hajj and Umrah Operators in Nigeria of its support towards cushioning the effect of Coronavirus lockdown.
NAHCON Chairman, Zikhrullah Hassan, gave the assurance while receiving executive members of Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria, AHUON, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Abuja.
This was contained in a statement by Mousa Ubandawaki, of the Information Unit of the commission in Abuja on Thursday.
Mr Hassan said that the commission was not unaware of the economic challenges being faced by the industry due to the lockdown.
He expressed the commission’s readiness to support the licensed tour operators towards reducing losses occasioned by the cancellation of 2020 lesser Hajj by Saudi Arabian authorities.
The chairman urged members of the association to exercise patience as measures would be put in place to support them and thanked the association for its continued support and trust.
He also reiterated his commitment towards partnership with the association to uplift Hajj and Umrah service in Nigeria.
AHUON Acting President, Saliu Butu, said the essence of the visit was to express their support for the commission and to solicit for assistance in the area of boosting their revenue profile in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Butu said members of the association were on the verge of bankruptcy as some payments made to service providers for 2020 Umrah have not been refunded.
”Only the Visa fee and Insurance charges had been refunded by the Saudi Government while other payments like air tickets, hotel service, transportation and other handling charges were still being awaited from the service providers,” he said.
Mr Butu urged the commission to assist by releasing the ₦5million annual refund fee paid by each company.
He also urged NAHCON to intervene by securing the Federal Government financial palliative for the association through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as well as defer the validity of 2020 Umrah license till 2021 so as to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.