PEOPLE flying out on the annual Hajj have yet to receive confirmations as to whether their journey will take place, according to pilgrims and travel firms.

Official organisations and industry bodies have also released statements recently, unsure as to what pilgrims should do.

Around 12,000 people were meant to be heading out on the annual pilgrimage which is open to British citizens for the first time since 2019.

Many of these are pilgrims who had booked to make the holy journey to Mecca in Saudi Arabia in 2020 before the Covid pandemic. They had been forced to defer their pilgrimage to 2022.

According to some sources, the recent launch of a new Saudi-backed platform where people can show their ‘interest’ in attending the Hajj has caused more confusion.

Pilgrims will now have to apply for a place in a Hajj ‘lottery’ and book their trip through the website, which has no financial protection such as ATOL.

This includes those who had already booked and paid for their 2022 trips.

There are 124 officially licenced Hajj Tour operators in the UK as well additional sub agents.

The Licensed Hajj Organisers (LHO) advised pilgrims they would be "entitled to a full refund" if their licensed company was not able to facilitate the Hajj.

The LHO also admitted "there appeared to be confusion regarding the introduction of a new system, two weeks before the first Hajjis are due to fly out" and "it was still not fully clear whether UK or European Licensed Hajj organisers will be permitted to organise or facilitate Hajj packages alongside the new system".

The organisation ended the advice by asking travellers to remain patient and "not to stress unnecessarily".

One travel agent, who did not wish to be named, said: “We don’t know what is going on.

“People need to plan and know what is going on. Some people are flying out in the next two weeks and they have no confirmations.

"I do not blame people for being stressed. We can’t answer their questions as we don’t know either.”

This year’s Hajj will take place from July 7, but travellers normally fly out weeks in advance and can spend up to four weeks in Saudi Arabia.

On April 9, the Saudi Hajj Ministry announced one million pilgrims will be permitted to carry out the Hajj, with quotas for all countries.

Shabaz Ahmed, who is hoping to make the trip to the holiest place in Islam, says the uncertainty is causing undue stress to his family.

He said: “My parents have booked to fly out and you really need to know by now what exactly is going on.

“We speak to our agent and he does not know. Which is frustrating.

“We are beyond the pandemic now and for something like the Hajj there needs to be better communication.

“Now I am being told we have to register elsewhere?”

The new Motawif website which has been launched just weeks before the Hajj is said to have received hundreds and thousands of requests to book Hajj from across the world.

But there were already concerns as what the new system will mean for travellers.

Under UK law any person that organises packages for sale in the UK must act in compliance with The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.

According to Hajj and Umrah resource site HaramainInfo: "Pilgrims will not be ATOL protected as is currently the case for UK pilgrims.

"Countries that have to book via Motawif, no other online/offline platform is permitted to issue Hajj Visa for 1443H-2022.’

"If you require a refund from your Travel Provider for Hajj 2022 / 2020, they will provide you with a refund according to their terms and conditions and current situation. Motawif won't be able to help with refunds.

“There are many reports the Motawif Website database has been compromised and those registering are receiving spam emails from unknown brands, in order to seek more information about data being leaked, the recommendation is to contact Motawif to ensure data is not compromised."

This comes after it was revealed some applicants on the new online portal reported receiving spam messages from a skincare company called 'Divine Beauty'.

The Council of British Hajjis called for people to remain calm.

A recent statement read: “As we await clarification and an official announcement from the Saudi Authorities on Hajj 2022 for British Pilgrims, we advise that you do not rely on unverified social media messages.

“More importantly please do not forward or share such messages as they’re creating unnecessary stress & anxiety for Pilgrims who have been eagerly waiting to perform Hajj since 2020.

“Rest assured all is being done to get clarity and guidance will be published soon.”