Haj expenses are set to go up steeply, as inflation-hit Saudi Arabia raised pilgrimage service charges for 2010, particularly accommodation and transportation costs, by at least 12 per cent.
A hike in airfare charged by Air India, which was raised to Rs 16,000 from Rs 12,000 last year but could not be implemented, will also take effect this year.
Indians make up one of the largest Haj contingents, with 150,461 faithfuls performing the annual Muslim pilgrimage last year.
Saudi inflation rose for the fourth straight month in April to a 10-month high of 4.9 per cent, according to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA).
Higher food costs and low availability of housing in Saudi Arabia were pushing up inflation, according to analysts.
“The effects have showed up as higher Haj costs,” Haj Committee CEO Mohd Owais said.
Indians have to choose from three general categories of travel — Green, White and Azizya. A fourth category is for those travelling on government quota, but on personal expenses.
For those in the topmost Green category, housing costs would be around Saudi riyal 4,000 (Rs 49,200), which is 12 per cent higher than last year.
Last year, prices went up by Rs 14,000 to Rs 96,000. The lowest category, ironically, saw the biggest hike of 20,000 to stand at Rs 82,000.
The topmost category offers better accommodation and better transport, apart from other amenities.