By Ahmed Al-lahyani
MAKKAH — As many as 1,511 hotels in Makkah with a total of 219,350 rooms have completed preparations to receive up to 15 million pilgrims expected to arrive during the current Umrah season, which began in mid-November. The Umrah season will continue until July 7, 2017.
Sources in the hospitality sector expects the number of Umrah pilgrims this year to increase by 3 million over the past season.
In addition to the hotels, there are 852 licensed buildings and furnished apartments in Makkah with a total of 36,456 rooms to accommodate the pilgrims.
The sources said hotel reservations during the first days of the season reached about 85 percent especially in the central area around the Grand Mosque as well as in the districts of Jarwal, Kudai, Al-Aziziyah and Al-Rawdah, which are not far from the mosque.
Riza Shalabi, a reservation clerk in one of the hotels in the central area, said the bookings of the internal rooms reached about 90 percent while they were about 80 percent for rooms overlooking the plazas of the Grand Mosque.
He said the price for single rooms stood at SR350-SR450 per night, almost unchanged from last year. The prices per night for royal suites overlooking the Grand Mosque ranged from SR1,100 to SR1,300, breakfast and dinner included.
Abdul Rahman Al-Amri, a reservation clerk in another hotel, said the pilgrims start making bookings online about 45 days before the advent of the Umrah season.
He said the early reservations were made by Umrah pilgrims from the Kingdom and the GCC countries, who represent about 35 to 45 percent of all pilgrims.
Amri said the occupancy rate in his hotel has reached about 95 percent and added that the price of a room per night is SR650-SR700, including breakfast.
Hussain Salem, a reservation clerk in one of the five-star hotels in the central area, said their price of a royal suite per night is SR2,500 while the price of a single room is SR1,000.
He said the occupancy in his hotel has reached 100 percent and 75 percent of the bills have been paid in advance.