While the Russia World Cup 2018 is not far away, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation has ordered the Federal Agency for Tourism to look into banning Booking.com, TripAdvisor and Airbnb.
In April, Russian tour operator Svoi TS asked to ban the Booking.com, TripAdvisor and Airbnb as part of countermeasures against the United States’ sanctions.
This week, 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."
This potential measure would prohibit customers from using the website to book hotels in Russia. According to SimilarWeb ranking service, Russian users accounted as one of the highest share of Booking.com’s traffic in the world.
In fact, the restriction has been 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.
Director of Svoy TS, Sergey Voitovich, said Booking.com is not a legal tour operator. Therefore, is paid and no appeal is possible via Rospotrebnadzor in case of complaints.
President of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Sergey Shpilko, notes that the OTA commission reaches about 18%. "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," he explained.
The Culture Ministry’s Tourism and Regional Development Department said it does not plan to ban Booking.com or regulate its activities within Russia.
“Moreover, the department is categorically against posing the question in those terms,” Olga Yarilova, Head of the Tourism and Regional Development Department.
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