The number of umrah-goers from Turkey reached a record of 421,000 in the first eight months of the year, according to figures from the Religious Affairs Directorate.
The number was 180,931 during the whole year in 2009 and 278,554 in 2011.
Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims, which can be taken at any time of the year unlike the Hajj, which is on a certain date.
In August, which this year overlapped with Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting during which journeys to Mecca increase, 75,000 people from Turkey went on umrah, fulfilling the whole quota provided by the Saudi authorities, according to TÜRSAB head Başaran Ulusoy. The figure has risen fast in recent years and stood at 27,888 during last year’s Ramadan.
Currently there are 40,000 Turks in the holy city of Mecca.
The directorate estimates that half a million Turkish people will have visited Mecca for umrah as of the end of this year.
Ulusoy said the figure would rise to 600,000 in 2012.
“An improvement in accommodation quality at hotels, permission for private stays [instead of group programs], the rising number of flights and a general development in business attitudes [in Mecca] have been effective in increasing the number of visitors,” Ulusoy said. “People do not have to take rice, butter or fruits and vegetables anymore when they are going on umrah.”
The business representative also warned umrah-goers to prefer registered tour agencies.
The cost of umrah tours that cover the whole month of Ramadan ranges between 1,000 and 5,000 euros, Ulusoy said, adding that during the last 10 days of the month tours generally cost around 2,500 euros.
source : http://abna.ir/