Indonesia raises umrah reference rate to accommodate higher COVID-19 costs

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

JAKARTA  - Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs has officially raised the reference rate for umrah by 30% from 20 million rupiah to 26 million rupiah ($1,846), forced by higher pandemic-era costs.

The Indonesian government sets a minimum rate for umrah packages that travel agencies must adhere to.

The decision, set in the MoRA decree Number 777/2020, means that umrah travel agencies must set their prices above the standard tariff of 26 million rupiah. Any agencies that wish to go under that reference rate must inform the Director General of Haj and Umrah, Oman Fathurahman, the ministry’s acting director general of hajj and umrah told Salaam Gateway.

“The travel agencies (PPIU) should refer to this. We will be in charge of supervising and controlling them and we need to supervise them so that the services provided to umrah pilgrims comply with the minimum service standards and the COVID-19 health protocol,” he said.

The government will also require umrah pilgrims to comply with the COVID-19 quarantine process. The ministry has prepared 29 hajj dormitories in Indonesia, with each holding 500 rooms that have adequate facilities to serve as quarantine sites, it said. The ministry has asked its hajj dormitory managers across Indonesia to prepare themselves to provide the best service for umrah pilgrims who will use the facilities to quarantine.

"Based on the latest MoRA Decree number 719/ 2020, quarantine for umrah pilgrims can be carried out in the hajj dormitories or hotels designated by the COVID-19 Task Force at the central and regional levels," ​​said the ministry official.

Syam Resfiadi, chairperson of the Indonesia Umrah Travel Association (SAPUHI) said the new standard tariff will affect the prices of umrah packages in general, from around 28 million rupiah pre-pandemic to 34 million rupiah during the pandemic era.

He added that this new package tariff covers the tripling of Saudi Arabia’s value-added tax to 15%, and other increasing costs including for visas, departure and arrival COVID-19 PCR tests, meal boxes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, hotel rooms that can only be occupied by two pilgrims, round-trip airplane tickets, COVID-19 insurance, and bus transportation during umrah for a maximum of 25 people.

“The standard tariff doesn’t cover five days of quarantine each in Saudi Arabia or Indonesia. So the actual tariff might be higher,” said Syam, who is also owner of Patuna Travel.

“But we travel agencies and the director general of hajj and umrah have already formulated and decided the rate, and we believe it was the best tariff rate for pilgrims.”

Any travel agencies that can provide prices lower than the standard reference tariff should report directly to the director general and explain the cost components and reasons behind them, said Syam.

1,090 pilgrims from Indonesia have performed the umrah after Saudi authorities re-opened for the pilgrimage in November, according to the religious affairs ministry. Pilgrim numbers are substantially limited due to COVID-19 social distancing and other health and safety measures.