Local tour operators fret over unfair competition
ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
This photo shows Muslims at a holy site in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during a pilgrimage. Photo by İsmail FidanTurkish travel agencies have lodged a formal complaint with the Competition Board regarding the Religious Affairs Directorate’s unfair competition in the Hajj and Umrah travel organization business.
The agencies complain that the Directorate favors certain travel agencies to issue visas for the Hajj and Umrah and advertises for these trips in mosques.
The Hajj and Umrah are religious pilgrimages by practicing Muslims to the holy site of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
The Competition Board, after reviewing the complaints, has refrained from pursuing any further investigation into the matter but has issued a letter to the Directorate stating many of the complaints were valid. In the letter, the Competition Board specified the Directorate, having a 60 percent quota for the Hajj market and 50 percent quota for the Umrah market – both set by Saudi Arabia and the Cabinet of Ministers – cannot use its unique position to foster an unfair advantage or engage in economic activity.
Furthermore, the Competition Board reminded the Directorate that because of its role as an impartial auditor and organizer for the Hajj and Umrah, it is obliged to protect free competition in the Hajj and Umrah travel market: The Directorate cannot both be an overseer and an actor in the market.