Turkish hotelier association asks court to lift ban on Booking.com

Turkish hotelier association asks court to lift ban on Booking.com

Turkish hotelier association asks court to lift ban on Booking.com

AFP photo

The Hoteliers Association of Turkey (TÜROB) has applied to a court with a demand to lift an interim measure on online hotel reservation website Booking.com, noting that the measure had only served to harm the country’s struggling accommodation sector.

On March 29, the Istanbul 5th Commercial Court of First Instance ordered the suspension of the activities of Booking.com in the country, citing accusations of unfair competition, following a lawsuit filed by the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB). 

TÜROB’s lawyers applied to the court on April 6 to lift the suspension decision, the association said in a statement, noting that it was harming the accommodation sector even more following recent difficulties.
TÜROB also said the decision had dealt a severe blow to hotels in the country that had been receiving most of their business through the website, as well as small hotels.

“The rule of law is unquestioned and Booking.com’s activities leading to unfair competition should be corrected if illegality is revealed. However, the suspension of Booking.com activities despite the fact that the judicial process is continuing amounts to punishing the citizen rather than Booking.com,” the statement read.

“Moreover, this decision leads to the creation of a negative perception against our country in the international arena. Our association, which always prioritizes the rule of law, accepts the need to protect the interests of all sector shareholders in the phase of correcting the unlawful implementations as the fundamental principle,” it said.

TÜROB’s application came one day after top representatives from TÜRSAB said they would not have any problem with Booking.com if the online portal opened a branch in the country and competed fairly with its Turkish competitors. 

“We would not say anything [against Booking.com] if they opened a branch in Turkey and fairly competed with their Turkish counterparts,” TÜRSAB President Başaran Ulusoy said on April 5, adding that it was unacceptable to set “the lowest price” under these conditions.

Hoteliers from the touristic Aegean region, as well as small hoteliers, have also voiced their anger against the court decision, accusing TÜRSAB of “harming Turkey’s tourism” with the move. 

Separately, TÜRSAB Secretary-General Çetin Gürcün told daily Dünya on March 31 that the same rule should be applied to other online reservation portals as well, including Germany-based Trivago.com and U.S.-based Tripadvisor.com. 

The website, which had around 13,000 hotel members from Turkey, stopped selling rooms in Turkey to Turkish users on March 30, one day after the court decided to block the booking option in the country. 

The website can still be used from foreign countries to make reservations for Turkish hotels.