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Inshallah i will be sending my parents & sister to Umrah in May, i have booked their flights with Saudi airlines and accepted a quote for accomodation, visa's & all round transport with an agency.
I emailed them to go ahead with the booking in January
Upon calling them today i have been told that the prices have risen and therefore my original quote isn't valid and they are having problems confirming hotel bookings in Mecca as even a confirmation isn't guaranteeing rooms.
Is this true that their are problems with room bookings in Mecca?
How can a person book hotels themselves? is this at all possible? what about getting Umrah visa's arranged and then finally all around transport?
The hotel rates in Makkah fluctuate a lot. Since large parts around the Haram has ben demolished for reconstruction, currently available hotels are insufficient to accommodate the large number of passengers arriving from different parts of the world. This has caused hotels to increase their rates - some time a steep rise. Your travel agent may be facing genuine problems. If you wish to book direct accommodation you may do so provided your travel agent agrees to that.
You may get a cheaper rate if you book through tour operators based in Saudi Arabia. One such is International Management Group (IMGC) based in Jeddah. I have used them on a couple of occasions and found their rates quite reasonable and their service is also quite good. Their email is email@example.com.
It is not compulsory to go with a group. You can definitely go individually but your hotel accommodation should be pre-arranged.