Russia may ban Booking.com on its territory
Booking.com is not a legal tour operator; therefore, it does not pay contributions and has the right not to respond to the controlling bodies of Rospotrebnadzor in case of complaints from consumers.
On May 21 the Federal Agency for Tourism (Russiatourism) received a letter from the Department of Tourism and Regional Policy of the Ministry of Culture with the instruction "to consider a proposal to ban the Booking.com in the territory of the Russian Federation," RBC reports citing the press service of Russiatourism.
“We consider it necessary to seek the opinion of the relevant professional public associations regarding this proposal, in connection with which we have sent an appropriate request,” the representative told RBC.
According to the document, Russiatourism is obliged to answer till June 4, 2018. The edition notes that the press service of the Ministry of Culture and the representative of the Russian office of Booking.com do not comment on the situation.
A month before, director of the tour operator Svoy TS (Your Tourist Service) Sergey Voitovich sent an open letter to the Ministry of Culture to limit the work of Booking.com in Russia in response to anti-Russian sanctions, Turprom reports.
As Voitovich explained in his interview with RBC, the restriction is proposed for booking of only Russian hotels and for customers who are in the country. Russian customers of Booking.com will be able to continue booking hotels in other countries, just like customers in other countries will be able to book hotels in Russia.
According to the director of Svoy TS, Booking.com is not a legal tour operator; therefore, it does not pay contributions and has the right not to respond to the controlling bodies of Rospotrebnadzor in case of complaints from consumers. At the same time, according to Voitovich's estimates, now Booking.com accounts for 60-70% of individual sales in hotels in Russia.
Director general of the Turris management company Svetlana Astafieva believes that if such a high-quality operator as Booking.com leaves the tourist market, there are no guarantees that its ‘successor’ will appear.
President of the Russian Union of Travel Industry Sergey Shpilko notes that the Booking.com commission reaches about 18%, which is comparable with the reward of a large tour operator. "As the market share increases, the size of the Booking.com commission is likely to increase, we are interested in the Russian market being competitive," Shpilko explains.
Note that the service Booking.com belongs to the American Booking Holdings.