With booking.com’s including the hotels on the shoreline of Turkey in its hotel portfolio, our members, especially those active in domestic tourism, lost a significant amount of business. We negotiated this with booking.com and we explained that they could not operate in a field regulated by law in Turkey; however booking.com extended its operations even further and created unfair competition. Therefore, we presented a declaratory case at the Istanbul Commercial Court of First Instance in December 2015. On March 29th, the court imposed an interim injunction for booking.com B.V. and booking.com Support Services Ltd. Company for stopping their “online” operations in Turkey. The decision was declared to BTK (Information and Communication Technologies Authority). Even before the decision was announced to BTK, booking.com decided to block their content to Turkish visitors as of March 30th.
Those hotels who did not understand the situation and those who built their business models on booking.com have reacted to our action.
However this is not the case. Here is what really happened:
TÜRSAB was founded pursuant to Law Numbered 1618 on Travel Agencies and the Union of Travel Agencies. It is a professional union as a “public legal entity”. According to the Turkish Commercial Code, professional unions protecting the economic interests of its their members have the right to detect and prevent unfair competition. Hence, again after the request of our Union, the Competition Board, in line with the provisions of the “best price guarantee” practice, has decided that the contracts made with the hotels have violated Article 4 of the Law on the Protection of Competition. The Board had also decided to inflict an administrative fine of 2.5 million TL to booking.com B.V.
Competition boards in many European countries have given similar decisions on this issue. The case is still on trial at the Fifth Commercial Court of First Instance. I would like to make it clear to all that our union has no other aim than protecting the legal rights of travel agencies, hotels and consumers buying services through them. As a professional union our priority is to protect the rights and interests of our members. Moreover, consumers can buy these products from hundreds of other channels in the domestic market.
I urge hotel operators to offer their booking.com prices to our agencies; so that both the consumers and the hotel operators will be protected...