Open branch in Turkey to avoid ban: Association tells Booking.com
ISTANBUL - Doğan News AgencyTop representatives from the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB) have said they will not have any problem with Booking.com if the online portal opens a branch in Turkey and fairly competes with its Turkish competitors.
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 TÜRSAB. The website, which had around 13,000 hotel members from Turkey, halted selling rooms in Turkey to Turkish users on March 30, one day after the court decided to block the website in the country. The website can still be used from foreign countries to make reservations for Turkish hotels.
In a press meeting on April 5, TÜRSAB President Başaran Ulusoy said the main reason behind their move was based on “unfair competition reasons.”
“The court found us right after we started our fight in a legal framework in Turkey, where there is the rule of law. The Hoteliers Association of Turkey thanked us in a letter. They believed us and we did what it required,” he said, adding that the move was to avert unfair competition.
“We cannot say anything [against Booking.com] if they open a branch in Turkey and fairly compete with their Turkish counterparts,” said Ulusoy, adding that it was unacceptable to set “the lowest price” under these conditions.
“Is it possible for TÜRSAB members to do the same in Germany or Switzerland?” he said.
“We obey the rules where we go; and we have to,” he noted, adding that it was expected from Booking.com to obey the fair competition rules.
Ulusoy noted that the Turkish operators faced serious problems when finding rooms, as the online reservation portal secured many guaranteed rooms, adding that the compliant was only against the portal’s Turkey operations.
Hoteliers from Turkey’s touristic Aegean region, as well as small city hoteliers, have voiced their anger against the court decision against Booking.com, blasting TÜRSAB that filed the case against the online reservation portal over competition concerns.
They accused TÜRSAB of “harming Turkey’s tourism” with the move.
TÜRSAB Secretary-General Çetin Gürsel said small hoteliers had created an information pollution regarding the issue in the last few days.
He called for small hotels to give the same prices offered to Booking.com and others to them.