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Coronavirus

Saudi pilgrim ban hits Indonesian tour operators and airlines

Extension through hajj season in July would be risk for Saudi tourism sector

DUBAI/JAKARTA -- Saudi Arabia's decision last week to ban foreign pilgrims has shocked Asian Muslims in countries such as Indonesia, where it is hitting the bottom line of tour operators and airlines.

Driven by Indonesia's growing piety and an expanding middle class, the number of umrah (pilgrimage) travel agents taking people to Mecca has grown to more than 1,000 from around 450 in 2013. But business for this booming sector has now ground to a halt.

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