Tourism company Elaf Group is working to increase its share of Egyptian Umrah pilgrims during the current season from 10% to 30% according to company chairman Ziad bin Mahfouz.
During a press conference held on Monday, Mahfouz stated that the company’s share of Umrah activities in Egypt was 20%. The company did not achieve any increases during the last Umrah season due to the difficult economic circumstances experienced by Egypt in addition to expansion operations underway at the Great Mosque in Mecca.
Elaf Group works with 100 Umrah travel agents around the world in five main countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom, according to Mahfouz.
Egyptian pilgrims who performed the Umrah last year numbered 945,000, representing 13% per capita growth over last year. Vice President of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association Nasr Al-Turki expected continuous growth at the same rate during the current season.
Turki expected Umrah programme prices would rise this season between 10-15%.
Elaf holds 3,900 hotel rooms in the holy sites in Mecca and Medina and purchases 7,000-10,000 rooms annually to absorb growth in the number of Umrah pilgrims, Mahfouz said.
“We hold the lion’s share of Umrah activities,” Mahfouz said in response to a question regarding the company’s share in Umrah travel across the world, declining to provide an exact figure.
Elaf will work to acquire 6,000 hotel rooms in religious sites in Mecca and Medina over the next four years, as four hotels were recently removed from Mecca due to the latest expansions made to the Great Mosque in Mecca.
Mahfouz justified the group’s lack of hotels in Egypt, saying: “We will not enter into hotel field in Egypt until we are fully aware of the efficiency and quality of services that we will offer to guests under the Elaf name.”
Elaf ceased to send groups of Saudi tourists to Egypt over the past three years due a lack of stability according to Mahfouz, who added that the company used to send approximately 10,000 families per year.
Mahfouz believes that current events in the Arab world prevent expansion of two-way tourism among the Arab countries.