Singaporeans 'spending more on haj'

Singaporeans 'spending more on haj'
Geopolitics professor Cedomir Nestorovic noted that the haj is a once-in-a-lifetime journey and some pilgrims are willing to pay upwards of $15,000 for a 30-day package to Saudi Arabia.

SINGAPORE - The Singaporean Muslim pilgrim is not just getting younger, but also more affluent.

And that means he is more willing to pay for costlier packages to Mecca, geopolitics professor Cedomir Nestorovic told The Straits Times, a point confirmed by travel agents here.

Some of these pilgrims can spend upwards of $15,000 for a 30-day package to Saudi Arabia, added the ESSEC Business School Paris-Singapore professor, who also teaches marketing in an Islamic environment.

"The first thing we have to stress - the haj is a spiritual journey. So for those lucky enough to go, this is the journey of their lives," said the Frenchman, who has been based here for three years.

Association of Muslim Travel Agents of Singapore (Amtas) honorary secretary Mohamed Roslan Jaafar said Singaporean pilgrims are increasingly willing to pay for top-tier hotels such as the Movenpick and the InterContinental, which are situated closer to Mecca's Grand Mosque, which plays a key role in the haj.

The closer hotels are to the mosque, the costlier they are.

"It's not about luxury, but a level of comfort so that they can perform the rituals without worrying about other things, such as food," Mr Roslan told The Straits Times yesterday.

"Muslims here are also getting more affluent. They don't mind paying as long as they believe it's worth their money."

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