Tour operators urge NAHCON to release refundable deposits to mitigate effect of COVID-19
– Commission pledges support
Hajj and Umrah tour operators have appealed for support from the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) to mitigate the impact of the economic slump in the tourism industry.
The economic downturn was occasioned by the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across the globe.
Under the aegis of Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria (AHUON), the group also wants the intervention of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to save them from bankruptcy.
Acting president of AHUON, Alhaji Saliu Butu, made the appeal when he led his executive members to visit the NAHCON headquarters in Abuja.
Butu explained how the outbreak of COVID-19 crippled their preparation for 2020 hajj, especially when the majority of them had already made non-refundable deposits to Saudi Arabian service providers.
He noted that aside the refund of visa fees and insurance charges, which had already been made by the Saudi government, other payments like air tickets, hotel service, transportation and other handling charges were still being awaited from the service providers.
The acting president further called on the commission to assist its members by releasing the N5 million annual refundable fee paid by each company to the commission and defer the validity of 2020 Umrah licence till 2021, to help their worsening financial situation.
Chairman of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, assured the travel tour companies of necessary support.
He said the commission was not oblivious of the multi-faceted effect of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, expressing the commission’s readiness to reduce their losses.
NAHCON pledged not to forsake the agencies, especially in the event of cancellation of lesser hajj and uncertainty of 2020 hajj.
The chairman, therefore, pleaded with the association to exercise patience with the commission to fashion out the right direction that would be just and equitable.
He thanked AHUON for the support, trust and confidence reposed in the commission and promised to look into their complaints and requests with a view to addressing them promptly.
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