A Turkish commercial court has ordered the blocking of the popular travel website over alleged unfair competition, saying the Dutch company’s hotel and flight reservations may pose a threat to local firms.The Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (Tursab), said on Wednesday the court in Istanbul had fined Booking.com 2.5 million lira ($686,605 or 639,526 euros) and banned its activities in the country.
Tursab itself has brought the litigation against the Dutch travel website, which was founded in 1996 and is part of the Priceline Group since 2005. Government authorities are now expected to block access to the website as soon as they receive official notification from the court.
“The decision has been taken to halt the unfair competition activities of booking.com,” Tursab said in a statement on its website.
The court ruled for the online travel agent’s activities to be “protectively halted” for an undisclosed period of time. Tursab lawyers had argued the company was engaging in unfair competition in the marketing of hotels in Turkey.
In a written statement, Booking.com said it disagreed with the ruling and would appeal.
“As an e-commerce and technology company, we are convinced that we contribute to healthy competition in the market by offering Turkish consumers a transparent and easy platform to compare and book accommodation all over the world,” the company said. It added that Booking.com also helps 13,000 Turkish businesses offer accommodation to consumers.
The Hurriyet daily quoted Tursab secretary general Cetin Gurcun as saying anybody who had already made reservations on the site would not be penalized.
uhe/jd (dpa, Reuters)