Tourism ministry to revoke licence of travel agencies misusing tourist, umrah visas for haj

KUALA LUMPUR: The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry will immediately revoke the licences of travel agencies found to be misusing tourist and umrah visas for haj purposes.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Roslan Abdul Rahman has been instructed to investigate the incident of prospective haj pilgrims stranded in Makkah after allegedly being deceived by cheap haj packages offered by an irresponsible travel agency.

"Regardless of the authenticity of the news, any party found guilty of this offence will have their licence revoked immediately.

"Tourism Malaysia is currently probing the matter. We await a comprehensive report from them, and if necessary, we will dispatch officials from the headquarters,” he said in a statement Friday (May 17).

The media previously reported that about 300 prospective haj pilgrims from Malaysia were stranded in Makkah, believed to have been scammed by a tour agency offering cheap packages using tourist visas.

Tiong said initial findings suggested the affected pilgrims were informed that their tourist visas could be converted to umrah or haj visas.

"This is utterly irresponsible! Some tour agencies or individuals have breached pilgrims’ trust by providing inaccurate information.

"Such actions not only violate the regulations set by the authorities but also jeopardise the safety and interests of pilgrims in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

At the same time, the minister cautioned umrah pilgrims against overstaying until the haj season as it is an offence under the Saudi government regulations, namely performing haj without a valid permit.

"The Saudi government only recognises haj permits issued by accredited institutions for each country, such as Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH),” he said.

Tiong also urged stranded pilgrims to report to TH and the Malaysian embassy in Jeddah for assistance and advice. - Bernama

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