A total of 435 persons have left Ghana for Saudi Arabia as part of the first batch of pilgrims embarking on this year’s Hajj.

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A total of 2,617 pilgrims from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions are expected to fly directly from the Tamale Airport to Jedda, Saudi Arabia.

A high-powered government delegation led by the Northern Regional Minister, Salifu Sa-eed, Chairman of the National Hajj Board, Sheikh I.C Quaye and Interior Minister, Ambrose Derry were there to bid the pilgrims farewell.

“We want to appeal to the potential Pilgrims to go and serve as Ambassadors of Ghana and abide by the rules of the Saudi Kingdom,” the Northern regional minister advised the pilgrims.

Chairman of the Hajj Board, Sheikh I.C Quaye, also added that government has made all the necessary provisions to ensure they embark on a successful trip.

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According to him, government had to settle some GHS 31 million debt incurred by the Hajj Board in order to ensure that this year’s trip was without major challenges, adding that government has subsidised the cost of travels of the pilgrims.

Meanwhile, about 237 pilgrims are also expected to leave later in the night, with nine flights scheduled to take off from the Tamale Airport.