In a major development, people of Kashmir can now avail visa services at their doorsteps and three Kashmir-based companies would now provide e-visa services to the intending Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.
Addressing a news conference here, Jammu and Kashmir Association of Hajj and Umrah Companies President, Sheikh Feroz Ahmad Thursday announced that the Government of Saudi Arabia has started e-visa services and three companies in Kashmir would now provide these services to the Hajj and Umrah aspirants.
“Earlier, it used to take 10 to 12 days for visas to arrive but now people don’t have to worry as it will take only an hour to get the e-visas in Kashmir,” he said.
Ahmad said earlier two companies had got the approval and now a third company has also joined them.
“These things will boost religious tourism in the Valley. It is the first of such kind initiative where people can get visa services at their doorsteps. They have been also authorized by the Saudi Arabia government,” he said.
The three companies include Al Haramain Hajj and Umrah Services, Al-Ansar Tour and Travels, and Raj Baba Tour and Travels.
Earlier, the Umrah and Hajj operators had to travel to New Delhi, Mumbai and other cities for availing these services and it would also take more time for completing remaining formalities.
“In Jammu and Kashmir, now people have three companies that have also received a registration license from Saudi embassy,” Ahmad said. “We had been trying for getting registration for the past three years and now three companies have got the authority of issuing visas.”
Stressing that while it would save them a lot to time, he said, “Hajj and Umrah tour operators won’t face hardship now and can get the visa here.”
Ahmad said it was taking them more time and money to get the visas earlier and finally the charges had to be borne by the people who wanted to go for Umrah or Hajj.
“Now we have this service in Kashmir and around 75 tour companies can avail the services in Srinagar,” he said.
Last year, at least 1514 people had gone for Hajj through private companies and this year they had received 5000 applications.