Online reservation portal Booking.com is expected to resume its operations in Turkey, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's Assistant General Manager of Promotions Ahmet Temurci confirmed yesterday.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Ahmet Temurci said the judiciary requires some obligations from Booking.com for the resumation of operations.
"I think that technical, financial and tax-specific arrangements will be made after talks are concluded. Booking.com may continue to operate in Turkey after fulfilling these requirements," he said.
Temurci noted that after upon the conclusion of talks between Turkey's Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci and company officials as well as the fulfillment of regulations regarding technicalities, taxation and finance, Booking.com is expected to resume its activities in the country.
Citing a misunderstanding over the stipulations on the company's activities, Temurci said the restrictions on Booking.com were solely a domestic issue, asserting that it is still possible for users to make reservations in Turkey from abroad and vice versa via the company's website.
Meanwhile, Osman Ayık, chairman of the Turkish Hoteliers' Federation (TÜROFED), said that Booking.com is one of the important platforms for reaching customers.
Ayık confirmed that more than 13,000 operators in Turkey are represented on the platform, making it necessary to keep such platforms open for continued collaborations.
Ayık added that the world is moving in the direction of online sales, claiming that online sales hold a roughly 3-percent share in global tourism: "So, if there are problems regarding Booking.com, these issues must be solved in tax-related terms or the like."
Indicating that Booking.com provides marketing opportunities for even the smallest facilities in the most remote corners of Turkey, Ayık said, "This is a very important platform through which touristic facilities can make themselves known, regardless of company size. Therefore, such an opportunity should not be taken away. If there are disagreements, it is crucial that we resolve such issues very quickly."
In the meantime, Minister Zeybekci said in an earlier statement that the ban on Booking.com had resulted in "no winners," concluding that both parties were "on the losing side."
Suggesting that TÜRSAB had made the right move by taking the issue to court and emphasizing the importance of looking for ways to bring Booking.com back to Turkey, Zeybekci said, "I'm not going to discuss the court decision and I think that's the way it should be. We must find a solution. We are engaging in talks with Booking.com officials. We have been blessed with the power of reason and we must act in an intelligent manner for the best interests of our country. If the issue is in the interest of Turkey, the remaining issues are minor details."
On March 29, an Istanbul court ordered the suspension of Booking.com's activities in Turkey, after TÜRSAB filed a lawsuit against the leading online travel agency.
The ban had a negative affect on the business of numerous small hotels across Turkey; particularly in Anatolia, which relied solely on Booking.com rather than other tour operators and travel agencies.
As a result, Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TÜROFED), Turkey Hoteliers Association (TÜROB) and the Turkish Small Hotels Association requested that the ban on the company be lifted.
Zeybekci is scheduled to hold another meeting with Booking.com officials to discuss the ban and the platform's operations in Turkey.