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Arrivals in Mecca for Hajj in 2017 and 2018

News Every year, hotels in Mecca become exceptionally crowded with visitors as more than one million pilgrims flies from different parts of the world to Saudi Arabia in order to perform Hajj. As Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, all Muslims who can perform Hajj should go to Mecca and do the pilgrimage at least once in their life. During the five days long pilgrimage, visitors perform a number of important rituals, such as crossing the desert or drinking from the holy well.

In order to manage the growing number of Muslim pilgrims, Saudi Arabia sets quotas for all countries. The number of people permitted to come for Hajj depends on the number of Muslims in a certain country. Once the quota is set, local governments and travel companies start distributing places among citizens. Naturally, for hotels in Mecca, the Hajj period is the hottest time of the year.

The recent analysis published by Travelport shows that as of the end of July 2018, arrivals to the holy city of Mecca were 20% higher than a year ago. This year, Hajj starts this weekend and ends together with the start of Eid AlAdha. The 2018 Hajj is expected to bring as many as 3 million pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. As this is a huge number of guests, some pilgrims arrived in the country one month in advance. The three most loaded airports that pilgrims usually fly into are the following: King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina, and Ta’if Regional Airport in Ta’if. Many guests arrive by charter flights that become exceptionally frequent during the pilgrimage period.

For the Hajj 2018, flight bookings through GDS from Pakistan have seen the biggest growth as of July 31 (13,788 more or +61%). The United Kingdom has the second highest increase in the number of flight bookings (4,324 more or +47%). Bahrain occupies the third spot with 4,306 more bookings (+173%). India and the UAE occupy fourth and fifth spots respectively with 3,791 (+19%) and 2,887 (+24%) more flight bookings. In total, visitors from 148 countries will visit Mecca during the Hajj period.

Needless to say, this period is a true test for the travel industry of the country. Airlines need to deliver pilgrims in time, agencies must help guests to accommodate and participate in all Hajj activities, and hotels must make it comfortable for guests to stay in Mecca.


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