The Ministry of Culture and Tourism (“Ministry”) has recently amended its longstanding Regulation on Travel Agencies.

With the amendment, the “online sales channel”, has been defined as the areas where travel agencies market and sell their services using online platforms, mobile applications, and other electronic communication tools without physically meeting consumers, included to the scope of the workplace of the travel agency. In this regard, the travel agencies are required to notify their online sales channels where they carry out marketing and sales activities to the Ministry and Turkey Travel Agencies Association (TÜRSAB) Furthermore, it was clarified that these online sales channels are subject to the audit regarding whether the workplace qualifications and the conformity with the relevant legislation and professional principles are ensured.

The most comprehensive amendments made to the Regulation are regarding the qualifications of the travel agency workplace with respect to its location, positioning of its signboard, possession of certain technological devices. Accordingly, it is required for each travel agency to have its own area of sufficient size, clearly reserved for its independent activities, in case there is more than one travel agency in the building or floors listed as a single independent section in the records. The travel agency may advertise, market, and sell its own or other travel agency's services within the scope of its exclusive activity, depending on the place of business, through online sales channels. In the case of promotion, marketing, and sales of services of more than one travel agency through the same online sales channel, it is required to be clearly stated that which service belongs to which travel agency. The travel agency should carry out its marketing and sales activities using online platforms, mobile applications, and other electronic communication tools only through online sales channels that are allocated for these activities. Other activities than travel agency services, cannot be carried out through online sales channels used for this purpose. Travel agencies are obliged to use the document number and the travel agency title which are provided in the business document issued by the Ministry to inform consumers in their marketing and sales activities, through online sales channels.

Besides, one must bear in mind that it is allowed to promote the products or services of the travel agencies through electronic commerce platforms that which other products and services are sold thereon. However, travel agencies may place advertisements and announcements on those platforms.

Further, demerger should also be notified to TÜRSAB in addition to change in agency title, trade name, group changes and merger of the company.

Nihan Ünal