Turkish hoteliers blast Booking.com ban amid concerns over worsening business

Turkey’s hoteliers have protested a recent decision by an İstanbul court that banned activities of the Dutch-based online hotel booking platform Booking.com in Turkey, pointing out that the tourism sector in the country has already been in bad shape over last few years.

In a statement on Sunday, the Turkish Hoteliers’ Association (TÜROB) said it is concerned about the ban on Booking.com activities in Turkey, which will negatively affect their worsening business.

The İstanbul 5th Commercial Court of First Instance decision on Thursday came after the Turkish Association of Travel Agents (TÜRSAB) filed a complaint against Booking.com claiming that the website is engaged in unfair competition against Turkish-based hotel and flight booking platforms.

Underlining that TÜROB is in touch with both TÜRSAB and Booking.com to find an amicable solution to the problem, the TÜROB statement said its members can submit petition of objection to court decision.

“It is important for Turkish [hotelier] representatives and businessmen to present a moderate, re-conciliatory and inclusive attitude in talks with Booking.com, which is a global player in the [tourism] sector, and opposing reactions may have negative effects on our country’s tourism, which is already facing difficulties,” TÜROB said.

Meanwhile, Bodrum Professional Hotel Executives Association (BOYD) President Serdar Karcılıoğlu also protested the Booking.com ban, saying it is “harakiri” for Turkish business and that “no country in world tourism history shoots itself in the foot.”

Speaking during the BOYD meeting following the decision, Karcılıoğlu criticized TÜRSAB for submitting the complaint.

“While the Turkish tourism sector is trying to survive amid worsening business, [the Booking.com] ban will be a big shock for the sector. It is a ‘harakiri’ for Turkey and TÜRSAB to have paved the way for the ban. Turkish hoteliers will have great difficulties, including the bankruptcies of small, medium and large hotels, unless the court decision rescinded.”

“As an e-commerce company and technology provider, we firmly believe that we are contributing to healthy competition in the marketplace by providing Turkish consumers with a transparent and convenient platform to compare and book accommodation all over the world. We also drive valuable incremental business for more than 13,000 Turkish accommodation providers of all kinds throughout the country who partner with us and choose to list their properties on our platform,” Booking.com told The Independent on Thursday.

According to the decision, Booking.com will not be able conduct commercial activities via its website Booking.com, and the Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) is to be ordered to ban access to the website in Turkey.

Earlier, Turkey’s Competition Authority fined Booking.com TL 2,543,992.85 over TÜRSAB’s complaint.

Turkey’s relations with European countries, including the Netherlands, have been strained over their refusal to allow Turkish government officials to hold rallies there ahead of a public referendum in Turkey in April. (turkishminute.com) April 3, 2017

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