Turkish hoteliers flock to courtroom to voice opposition to Booking.com ban
ISTANBULDozens of legal and real persons flocked to the courtroom to voice their opposition to a Booking.com ban, citing the losses they have incurred from the decision, daily Dünya reported on May 22.
Representatives from a top brand city hotel said their losses exceeded 85,000 euros, while a boutique hotel owner said they had lost around 16,000 euros.
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, 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 compliant hearing at the Istanbul’s 5th First Instance Court of Commerce, nine tour operators, nine hotels and a tourism company, three real persons and two sector associations, the Hotel Association of Turkey (TÜROB) and the Bodrum Touristic Hoteliers Association, voiced complaints against the court decision.
Representatives from the Ramada Old City Hotel, which is close to Istanbul’s historic touristic peninsula, said their hotel posted an 85,000-euro loss in April following the Booking.com ban.
As many customers are opting to visit neighboring countries instead of Turkey, their losses keep growing, they added.
One representative from a four-star hotel in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu, where the popular İstiklal Avenue is located, said almost half of their reservations used to be made through Booking.com and they had suffered a loss of around 16,000 euros since the ban was imposed.
A lawyer from İzmir also voiced his complaints, saying he used to make reservations via Booking.com for his business travels across the country but the recent ban has hit his budget due to a rise in his hotel and other reservation costs.
TÜRSAB lawyers justified their lawsuit by stressing that what Booking.com earns in Turkey must be taxed in Turkey.
Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has also stated that officials are in talks with the website in order to act in compliance with the law in Turkey and become fully operational again.
“I had a meeting and now our friends are having a meeting. We have to deal with [the situation] in such a way that their expectations are met and laws are not broken,” Zeybekci told state-run Anadolu Agency on May 14.