Aegean hoteliers voice anger against Booking.com decision
İZMİR/BALIKESİRHoteliers from Turkey’s touristic Aegean region have voiced their anger against a recent court decision against Booking.com, blasting a leading sector association that filed a case against the online reservation portal over competition concerns.
An Istanbul court on March 29 ordered the suspension of the activities of Booking.com in Turkey, citing accusations of unfair competition, following a lawsuit filed by the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB).
The website can still be used from foreign countries to make reservations for Turkish hotels.
The head of the Aegean Touristic Hoteliers Association, Mehmet İşler, accused TÜRSAB of “harming Turkey’s tourism” with the move.
“Booking.com offered our tourism players across the country a chance to introduce and market themselves in a fair and equal manner. Can there be a fairer move than this? The website did not create unfair competition; on the contrary, it offered equal opportunities,” said İşler in a press meeting on April 3, as quoted by Anadolu Agency.
The website, which had around 13,000 hotel members from Turkey, began to halt selling rooms in Turkey to Turkish users on March 30, one day after the court decision to block the website in the country.
İşler accused TÜRSAB of “not being able to keeping pace with today’s realities,” adding that the association would be named in the future as “the unit which dealt the greatest harm to Turkey’s tourism.”
Protest in Ayvalık
A hotelier association from the Ayvalık district of the Aegean province of Balıkesir also held a demonstration on April 2 to protest the move, claiming that almost 70 percent of local tourists used to make their reservations via Booking.com.
The head of the Ayvalık Hoteliers Association (AYOP), Hatice Arga, said the association would do whatever is necessary to reverse the ban.
This move will hit the country’s tourisms in a more disastrous manner than the Russian crisis or the July 2016 coup attempt did, she said in a press statement following a demonstration, according to Doğan News Agency.
“Almost 70 percent of local tourists made their reservations via Booking.com for local tourism destinations. The average was quite a bit higher for Ayvalık, around 90 percent. TÜRSAB’s demand to exclude Booking.com from the game will hit us,” she added.
Arga questioned how small hoteliers would make a deal with big travel agencies which are a TÜRSAB member.
“Are we going to chase and find customers by making noisy advertisements at bus stations again? Or will we need to work only with TÜRSAB members or choose to close down our business? The move will also negatively affect them,” she added.
Hoteliers from the Aegean resort of Bodrum will also hold an emergency meeting over the issue on April 4, as reported by Doğan News Agency.