Investors in hotels and furnished apartments in Makkah say the ban on old, sick and infirm pilgrims has caused a SR1bn ($267mm) loss during Haj. Chairman of the Hotels and Tourism Committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce said income was down 70 percent. Khaleel Bahadar said investors lost money both during Haj season and Ramadan because of swine flu fears.
However, according to a Q4 study by Business Monitor International (BMI), religious tourism will drive tourism industry growth in Saudi Arabia by an estimated 6 percent every year until 2013. The BMI report maintains that although there are strict entrance and visa regulations the industry has strong potential. BMU predicts the number of hotel rooms in Saudi Arabia will increase to 321,000 by 2013, and that tourism arrivals in the country will remain constant at slightly over 12 million.