Mon, 01 Dec 2003

Haj seats put on offer for US$900

JAKARTA: Seats for haj pilgrims who have purchased de luxe packages, known as ONH Plus, are being offered by travel agents at prices of up to US$900, with the Ministry of Religious Affairs fail to control the practice.

"We cannot prove that the seats are being auctioned like that by the travel agents because most people are willing to pay that much just to secure a seat," the ministry's haj coordinator Arifin Djayadiningrat said on Sunday.

For the 2004 haj season, the country has secured a quota of 235,000. Of this number, 12,000 seats have been reserved for pilgrims who can afford to fork out extra on de luxe packages.

The de luxe packages from travel agents cost around $4,500 per person, and they have to pay an extra $900 to prevent their seats being given to other people.

Unlike the regular packages organized by the government, the de luxe packages entail five-star hotel accommodation and fewer days in Saudi Arabia. --Antara