KUALA LUMPUR: The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) has planned to make it compulsory for every umrah agency to prepare an agreement with prospective pilgrims, in an effort to protect consumer rights.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said the agreement, among other things, will state the terms and conditions, the schedule and the package offered, as well as provisions on damages in the event of misconduct either by the umrah agency or pilgrims.

“It is in line with Regulation 6(1A)(d) under the Tourism Industry Act 1992 (Act 482),” he said in his reply to a question from Hassan Abdul Karim (PH-Pasir Gudang) regarding the measures taken by the government to address the increase in the cost of performing umrah in Saudi Arabia, during an oral and answer session in the Dewan Rakyat sitting today.

Tiong also said that MOTAC views the issue of the increase in the cost of umrah seriously, as it involves the cost of accommodation, logistics and flight tickets, which is alleged to have occurred due to high demand from pilgrims around the world.

He said MOTAC held a meeting with the Foreign Ministry, the Transport Ministry; the Department of Waqf, Zakat and Hajj (JAHWAR); the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM); the Malaysia Competition Commission (MYCC); Malaysia Airlines Berhad and AMAL by Malaysia Airlines, on Jan 31.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of the umrah operator associations, namely the Malaysian Bumiputera Association of Tour and Travel Agents (BUMITRA), the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) and the Malaysian Umrah and Hajj Travel Agency Association (PAPUH).

“Based on the meeting, MOTAC, the Transport Ministry and AMAL by Malaysia Airlines will hold further discussions, to identify a strategy to standardise the distribution of air ticket sales to minimise the increase in the cost of umrah flight,” he said.

He said that this, indirectly, will give space to umrah agencies to get more competitive flight ticket prices to be offered to umrah pilgrims. -Bernama

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