JEDDAH: Zamzam, an online platform for Umrah travels, has been clocking record numbers with scores of pilgrims opting to undertake the arduous journey to the holy sites of Saudi Arabia in a few clicks.
The company served over 350,000 travelers and booked transfers for around 170,000 pilgrims in the last six months.
The numbers reflect the resurgence of religious tourism in a post-pandemic world and speak volumes on the role of technology in facilitating one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.
“Travelers no longer have to wait for days to visit the embassy and physically collect their visas. Instead, they could do all of it in a few clicks,” Omar Akbar, founder and CEO of Zamzam.com, told Arab News.
Launched in 2019, the Jeddah-based travel platform offers flight reservations, hotel bookings and ground services, besides issuing Umrah visas to people who need them.
It recently launched a dedicated call center facility with experienced multilingual staff, an automated WhatsApp chatbot and email support, serving customers round the clock throughout the year.
“We had started this venture just before the pandemic with the idea of creating the first online portal that caters to religious tourism. Thankfully, we had a successful launch, but everything came to a standstill when the pandemic struck. So, rather than brooding over the stalemate, we spent the following two years improving our portal and adding more services,” recollected Akbar.
After two years of the pandemic restrictions, the perseverance paid off when the Kingdom raised the number of Hajj pilgrims per day by one million, bringing a new dimension to Umrah.
“Pilgrims today don’t want to restrict themselves in a room during their two-week stay in the Kingdom. Instead, they want to follow the trail of Prophet Muhammad and experience the authentic stories,” said Akbar.
The company is in an advanced stage of talks with the Ministry of Tourism to avail a license to create tourism packages that trail the footprint of Prophet Muhammad.
Established through a joint venture with TBO.com, Zamzam.com also offers high-end services such as VIP meet and assist services at Jeddah airport, guided Umrah tours, special programs to enrich the visitors’ experience, and premium services for executives, royal delegations and guests.
In addition, the platform has partnered with several financial institutions such as VFS, Merit, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Buy Now Pay Later to offer exclusive loyalty programs for customers with relevant credit cards.
The platform is committed to creating meaningful pilgrimage experiences for religious travelers coming to the Kingdom from over 110 countries across the globe and has nurtured an efficient network of partner agents, industry professionals, and destination managers.
On April 19, Zamzam announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Al-Birr Charitable Society in Makkah.
Under the MoU, Zamzam will donate a certain amount from every booking completed on its site toward Al-Birr over the next year. The donation will be used to support the various charity programs undertaken by Al-Birr to serve the community.
It will be interesting to see how good intentions could further influence the future of religious tourism. For more on this, watch out for this space.