Holy city of Mecca sees 20% increase in arrivals ahead of Hajj 2018

(Photo: iStock)
(Photo: iStock)

Every year, more than one million people from all over the world fly into western Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj, making it one of the largest annual jumps in global air traffic. This year, flights to Mecca are up by a massive 20% ahead of the Hajj.   

With Hajj being one of the five pillars of Islam, all Muslims are obliged to make the Islamic pilgrimage at least once in their lifetimes if they have the means to do so. Over five days, it involves undertaking a series of rituals including trekking through the desert and drinking water from a holy well. To manage the rapid increase in numbers of visitors to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, quotas are set for countries based on their population of Muslims.

Travelport, a travel commerce platform, recently released the findings of a study that they undertook to analyse this annual spike in air traffic to the holiest locations in Islam.

By analysing this year’s bookings made to the airports closest to these locations (King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Ta’if Regional Airport in Ta’if and Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz in Medina), visitors mostly came from Pakistan and the United Kingdom respectively.  

As of 31 July, Pakistan shows the greatest growth in bookings around Mecca when compared to last year’s Hajj with volume up by +61% (13 788 volume increase). The United Kingdom (UK) shows the second highest growth with a +47% (4 324) bump in travellers headed to Saudi Arabia. 

SEE: Muslim Travellers: The best route option for SA's Umrah and Hajj pilgrims is via wondrous Istanbul

 (Photo: iStock)

South Africa, with its fairly large Muslim population has also made it to the list as the second largest African country contingent to make the pilgrimage this year -  with 179% (975) growth in bookings. The largest was from Sudan, with an estimated 49% growth and 1 215 visitors.  

SEE: Halaal Tourism 101: Learning the ways of the Muslim traveller

Coming in third with 4 306 bookings is Bahrain which, compared to last year’s comparable data, shows an impressive +173% increase. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India round up the top five with a 24% (2 87) and +19% (3b791) increase in bookings respectively.

SEE: Cape Town's 300-year history of halal living to add spice to inaugural Africa Halal Week

 The Hajj pilgrimage takes place in the Islamic holy city of Mecca or Makkah in Saudi Arabia where the 'Kabah' (which is the house of God or 'Allah') is located. Its name is Arabic for 'cube' - given its cloth-draped shape. (Photo: iStock)

Find Your Escape with our Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe here. Or download the News24 App here, to receive expertly curated travel wanderlust directly to your mobile

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, immediately!
38% - 3453 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 2366 votes
No, I don't think they need it
36% - 3334 votes
Brent Crude
All Share
Top 40
Financial 15
Industrial 25
Resource 10
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo