Religious Tourism Boosts Air Charters
International Air Charter is anticipating a 50-percent increase in demand for charters to Saudi Arabia during the month of Ramadan which began Aug. 21 and continues to Sept. 19. The company is devoting "substantial resources" to help well-heeled religious tourists conduct their pilgrimages to holy cities like Makkah (Mecca) and Madinah comfortably and efficiently. "The large number of tourist arrivals during Ramadan makes chartered flights a practical travel solution, especially for affluent travellers who wish to avoid the time-consuming formalities of commercial air travel," IAC spokesman Elie Abdo said in a statement.
The company's strategy for those who want to perform the Umrah and Haj pilgrimages is to ensure they can get to the holy cities from anywhere in the world and the onboard services can be customized to "match their personal and religious requirements." The Saudi Arabian government estimates that religious tourism generates up to $7 billion annually.