Turkish tourism association set to warn other websites, including Tripadvisor, upon Booking.com ruling
REUTERS photoA leading Turkish tourism association is set to send a court decision against Booking.com to similar foreign online reservation portals, including Tripadvisor.com, to ask them to comply with the required competition rules or face legal action, daily Dünya reported on March 31.
An Istanbul court on March 29 ordered the suspension of the activities of Booking.com in Turkey, citing accusations of unfair competition.
The Istanbul 5th Court of First Instance ordered the suspension of Booking.com to mediate bookings of hotel and accommodation facilities in Turkey, in a lawsuit filed by the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB).
The website can be used from foreign countries to make reservations for Turkey hotels.
A TÜRSAB representative told daily Dünya that the court’s Booking.com ruling marked a precedent and the same rule should be applicable for other online reservation portals, including Germany-based Trivago.com and U.S.-based Tripadvisor.com.
TÜRSAB Secretary General Çetin Gürcün said the association had repeatedly warned Booking.com before it went to the court to prevent anti-competitive actions.
Gürcün added that they should have sued the website in December 2015.
He said companies that want to offer online reservation services in Turkey must become a TÜRSAB member and give some guarantees to the state, adding that Booking.com triggered unfair competition in the sector as it did not pay taxes.
“Booking.com wanted many guarantees from hotels in Turkey by using its global edge, such as up to 50 percent commission fees and a certain number of room quota. By using these advantages, the website was able to offer the lowest price advantage. The Competition Board fined the website on this ground, but this did not stop them. As a sector association, we have then declared a war against such moves in a bid to protect our companies. In order to create awareness, we applied to the court only for Booking.com. Others must do what is required,” he added.
Booking.com has said it disagrees with the court ruling to halt its activities in Turkey, adding that it will appeal the decision.
The website on March 30 began to halt selling rooms in Turkey to Turkish users, one day after the court decision to block the website in the country.
“As an e-commerce and technology company, we are convinced that we contribute to healthy competition in the market by offering Turkish consumers a transparent and easy platform to compare and book accommodation all over the world,” the company said, as quoted by the Associated Press on March 29.