Price spike for Umrah packages affected by costly air travel, says Matta Sarawak chairman

Choo (centre) speaking at the press conference today (Feb 7, 2023) at Matta Sarawak Chapter Office. Also see are (from right) Mok and Chai.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Feb 7: The increase in the cost of Umrah travel packages to Mecca and Medina was caused by higher prices for airline tickets compared to the pre-Covid-19 pandemic period.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Sarawak Chapter chairman Oscar Choo said from what was gathered by Matta headquarters, this was one of the factors contributing to the hike in the price of Umrah packages nationwide, apart from labour shortage as well as minimum number of aircrafts in airline fleets as travel begins to pick up worldwide.

“So far, there is no complaint in Sarawak yet (on Umrah packages). But this is a demand-and-supply thing.

“For the public, any cheap flights are always the best, like during the pre-pandemic period. But at the moment, as air travel is just begining to pick up, there are some issues with manpower as well as limited (number of) aircrafts as many airlines have problems with their fleet size,” he said during a press conference on the upcoming Sarawak Matta Travel Fair 2023 at the Matta Sarawak Chapter Office here today.

Choo was responding to a question on allegations that travel agents were buying flight tickets in bulk to resell them at higher prices. Earlier, it was reported Federal Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Dato Sri Tiong King Sing said the ministry will investigate and that action will be taken against any travel agent found to have flouted the law in their operations.

With that, Choo advised people to travel with licensed travel operators so that if complaints or issues arise, Matta will be able to identify if the travel agent is licensed.

“Whether they are Matta members or any issues foreseen, Matta headquarters and Sarawak Chapter can handle the matter internally with our members,” he emphasised.

On another question, Choo pointed out that Sarawak travel operators are always prepared to welcome back travellers be they domestic or international.

“It does not matter whether from China or any other country, we do not discriminate. Around the world, the pandemic is still there and we are living with it.

“Being prepared, any inbound agents would be more than happy to receive any visitor coming in because after two years with zero income for the travel industry, any help will boost the economy,” he added.

Matta Sarawak Chapter vice chairperson Mok Venia and fair organising chairperson Jennifer Chai were among those present. — DayakDaily