(CTN News) – Despite government efforts to lower package prices, Bangladesh is experiencing its lowest Hajj registration turnout because most people cannot afford the trip.
As of today, only 47,773 prospective pilgrims have registered against the quota of 127,000 granted by Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh for the 2024 Hajj season.
Hajj is scheduled to start on June 14 and end on June 19. The first deadline for Bangladeshi pilgrim registration was extended twice due to low response. The second deadline expired on Jan. 18.
In order to make sure everyone was aware of the Hajj registration deadline, we tried to inform them. According to Mohammed Matiul Islam, additional secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, information was disseminated via television, newspapers, SMS, etc.
We did not fulfill our Hajj quota last year as well. In contrast, this year’s situation was very different. “This time, there are a very low number of people registered.”
According to him, the government has yet to decide what to do with the remaining slots.
Despite skyrocketing travel prices, Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country, struggled to meet Saudi Arabia’s Hajj quota in 2023.
One of the five pillars of Islam, the spiritual journey, was out of reach for several thousand prospective pilgrims.
A $1,000 reduction in Hajj packages was made by the Bangladeshi government to prevent the same situation from happening during the 2024 pilgrimage season.
Compared with 2023, the minimum government rate for Hajj from Bangladesh this year is $5,034 – a significant decrease.
There are more factors at play than just high inflation and airfares to the Middle East that were identified by Hajj tour operators last year. A recent general election in Bangladesh was boycotted by the opposition and became one of the country’s most controversial polls, which raised concerns about political stability.
As it’s election year, I think many people opted to wait due to the political situation. Second, a large number of Bangladeshis are now performing Umrah,” said Shahadat Hossain Taslim, president of the Bangladeshi Hajj Agencies Association.
Umrah used to take place over a period of three months, but now it takes place over a period of ten months, and all flights from Bangladesh to the Kingdom are full of Umrah pilgrims.”
Due to the devaluation of the Bangladeshi taka against the US dollar, the difference between the package price and the new price cannot be felt due to persistent inflation.
In the last year, the taka has devalued severely, making it seem very high for pilgrims. In order to ease the burden on pilgrims, we reduced the possible maximum amount.” Taslim said.
This year, many countries will not be able to reach their Hajj quotas due to the ongoing global recession.”