Transfer firm that charged tourists astronomical price may lose license: Business group
Burak Coşan - ISTANBUL
A VIP transfer firm, which charged Japanese tourists an astronomical price for a 20-minute journey from Atatürk International Airport to the Sultanahmet neighborhood may lose its license, the Turkish Travel Agencies Union (TÜRSAB) said on April 26.
“Related units are preparing reports. According to the report, penalties such as a warning or cancellation of license may occur. It’s a free market but tourists are still protected,” TÜRSAB head Firuz Bağlıkaya said.
The two Japanese women arrived in Turkey at 3:30 a.m. on April 21 as part of a tour organized by the tourism firm MSI, but could not find the MSI representative who would arrange their transfer to Sultanahmet.
They then reportedly came to terms with another transfer company at the airport, which demanded an extortionate 1,550 Turkish liras (around $380) for the 20-minute journey. The same trip in a taxi costs between 60 and 70 liras.
MSI chair Ertan Demirbaş had filed a complaint about the company to the Turkish Travel Agencies Union (TÜRSAB) after the tourists sent the bill to MSI, questioning whether it should be so high.
Bağlıkaya also said the results of the report would be completed next week.
“In all the major metropolises of the world, tourists may encounter such situations. We, as TÜRSAB, are extremely sensitive to the treatment of tourists. Even if such events before us have been tolerated, we will not. According to the report, which was prepared by the committee, the case will be referred to the agency discipline committee,” he said.
The TÜRSAB head rejected the remarks from the firm, which said they did not swindle the tourists.
“It does not work by saying ‘I told them the price, it’s done.’ A reasonable and sensible fare should be written. For a VIP transfer, it may be 25-30 percent over the normal price but not 300 percent,” said Bağlıkaya.
He also said the happiness of tourists was the most important thing for TÜRSAB.
“The market may be free, but tourists are protected. Their happiness is what is important for us. In this respect, we also protect the agencies that do their job right. We prevent unfair competition. We have witnessed in the past how we went through economic hardship when tourists did not come to our country. The year 2017 was the year of recovery. In 2018, tourism is expected to break records. It is not right for such an incident to occur at the beginning of the season. We will do what is necessary to prevent such incidents,” said the TÜRSAB head.