Despite government warnings, hajj tour operators in Saudi Arabia are using the names of celebrity preachers to overprice their services, Saudi daily newspaper al-Eqtisadiah reported on Tuesday.
The newspaper did not name any specific preacher being marketed with hajj tour campaigns, but several clerics in the kingdom are known media celebrities and have millions of followers on Twitter.
The ministry was “clear” about banning this type of marketing and the violators will be subject to fines, the newspaper quoted sources the hajj ministry as saying.
The sources said tour operators are allowed to use the services of famous clerics as religious mentors to the pilgrims but they cannot use their names publicly to lure Muslim devotees and do so at elevated prices.
Hatem Qadi, deputy hajj minister, urged operators to refrain from overpricing their services regardless of reasons.
Qadi said the ministry is open to receiving complaints who find themselves subject to exaggerated hajj tour prices.
Some of the tour operators are reportedly charging about 18,000 riyals ($4,700).