Forex instability poses threat to our business – Hajj operators

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By Salisu Sani-Idris

The Association for Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHUON), has identified instability in the foreign exchange (forex) market as a major threat to the Hajj and Umrah industry in the country.

The outgoing President of AHOUN, Alhaji Nasidi Suleiman, stated this at the association’s Annual General meeting (AGM), held at the National Mosque, in Abuja, on Wednesday.

Suleiman said that it was no longer news that the rate of exchange was rising rapidly.

“This is coupled with the economic hardship in the country. All these have posed a lot of threats to our business in several ways than ever before.

“We can no longer make forecasts or plan even for weekly, monthly and annual transactions, due to the instability in the forex market.

“We cannot give fares for Umrah packages except on a daily basis due to the volatility in prices for both the Visas and hotels.”

Suleiman also lamented that the changes in the Umrah Visa regime by the Saudi authority through the quarterly allocation which started earlier than usual this year, had created tension in the market.

“Tension was also created by the changes introduced on the number of companies to operate Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

“And the timing for the closure of issuance of hajj fares and the complexity associated with merger and consolidation of companies to work together, have worsened the situation instead of providing a soothing relief of hope to our members.

“As we gathered here today, very few of us can boast that they will be able to sell all their hajj slots allocation in time, to be able to meet the visa closure dateline.”

Suleiman, however, said that vision 2030 of the Saudi regime had liberalised hajj processes and management and provided opportunity for full private sector participation in all Hajj services.

He restated the commitment of the association to engage the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to push for greater role and responsibility in the provision of good services to Nigerian pilgrims.

He thanked the commission for its unwavering support throughout his tenure as the president of the association.

Also, the association’s outgoing General Secretary, Alabi Ishola, urged the incoming leadership to continue to work towards ensuring that Nigerian pilgrims get value for their money.

On his part, the Chairman of NAHCON, Malam Jalal Arabi, congratulated the outgoing leadership of the association for their contribution to the hajj and umrah industry.

The AGM which was attended by members of the association from the 36 states and the FCT, featured presentation of an award to the immediate past leadership of NAHCON. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Salisu Sani-Idris

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