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Travel agents continue sit-in against Awqaf Ministry’s Hajj company

By Ahmed Bani Mustafa - Feb 24,2018 - Last updated at Feb 24,2018

Travel agents stage a sit-in near the Hajj Fund in Amman (Photo courtesy of JSTA)

AMMAN — Travel agencies have filed a lawsuit against Awqaf Ministry for establishing its own travel operator, claiming such move is “illegal”.

Travel agents have been staging a sit-in for the 15th day against the establishment of a travel company by the Hajj Fund affiliated with Awqaf Ministry.

The Jordan Society of Tourism and Travel Agents (JSTA) said it has filed a lawsuit at the Administrative Court over the legality of the Awqaf Ministry’s newly-established travel agency.

JSTA Secretary Kamal Abu Diab said the the society sent has also submitted a complaint to Chambers of Trade and Industry against the ministry’s travel agency.

“The number of protestors is increasing due to the great damage caused by the decisions of the ministry, which violates the law to enter a direct competition with the tourism sector and disregarding its supervisory and regulatory role under the Law”, Abu Diab said

Regarding the reasons behind the protest, JSTA said that private travel agencies, which employ “hundreds” of Jordanians, will not be able to compete with a government-owned company that has a much larger capital collected by the Hajj Fund from pilgrims.

As the company is owned by the ministry, which is an executive and monitoring authority, there will be no avenue for clients to complain about services, JSTA President Mohammad Samih, told The Jordan Times recently. 

Abu Diab listed three demands from the association including the cancellation of the company, having the association as the only organiser of Hajj and umrah trips in cooperation with the Awqaf and the Tourism ministries, and a meeting with Prime Minister Hani Mulki to “refute the distorted image of the tourism sector delivered to the government”. 

Despite the “long” sit-in the minister did not to contact the association to negotiate, according to the secretary.

Instead, he committed another “frank violation” and sent a team from the Department of Hajj and Umrah to rent housing for pilgrims, which violates the directives of the prime minister and the minister of tourism (licensing authority), said Abu Diab.

The National Hajj Company is totally legal and accountable, Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Wael Arabiyat told The Jordan Times recently.

“Anybody who has an objection can resort to the judiciary,” he added.

“If any pilgrim files a complaint against the company, it will be held accountable and dealt with as other companies,” he stressed. 

The protesters have already submitted a complaint to the Competition Department at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply. 

“The department responded to them by disapproving the claim, saying that establishing the company does not breach the Competition Law,” said Arabiyat

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