Turkish Travel Agencies Association (TÜRSAB) Secretary General Çetin Gürcün said travel fare and hotel fee aggregator websites, such as expedia.com, trivago.com and tripadvisor.com, carry out activities similar to booking.com, the activities of which have been suspended in Turkey, adding that they are sending notifications to all of these companies, citing the suspension decision as an example. Gürcün highlighted that if travel websites do not act in accordance with the warnings, they will also face legal action.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Gürcün stated that TÜRSAB has followed through with the court's decision on booking.com without waiting for the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) to implement it. He added, "The court's decision stipulates that access to this website will be completely prevented in Turkey. If booking.com wants to continue its activities in Turkey, it has to abide by commitments. We are aiming to prevent unfair competition inside the country. We will also warn other companies operating in the same sector. If they do not pay attention to the warnings, we will initiate a legal process against them."
Underlining that booking.com does not pay any taxes in Turkey, Gürcün said travel agencies pay taxes for every transaction they make. He also noted that this constitutes the basis of unfair competition.
Gürcün referred to the fact that many travel agencies operating in the domestic tourism sector lose their capacity or shut down because of unfair competition, saying that travel agencies will adapt themselves to quickly fill this gap and lead to a good capacity in domestic tourism.
Necessity to create a national portal emphasizedAlaeddin Babaoğlu, founding partner and chairman of the German hotel investment company Amplio, said that the court decision for booking.com is very accurate, stressing that such websites, especially airbnb.com, should be restricted.
Babaoğlu also stated that booking.com did not pay taxes in Turkey, continuing, "It was receiving commissions of up to 50 percent from hoteliers - which was creating an unfair environment, but many hoteliers felt obliged to cooperate as they had no other alternatives." According to Babaoğlu, websites such as booking.com negatively affected travel agencies which make a maximum profit of 3 to 5 percent from transactions.
Babaoğlu further noted that he does not think Turkish customers will have trouble with accessing the hotels, stressing that everyone engaged in tourism, including the Tourism Ministry, nongovernmental organizations, hoteliers and travel agencies, need to come together and create a national portal.