Travel is an interest, if it should be remembered after being locked up in France for more than 6 months, it is to meet people relatively far from our daily life.
And one of those special moments happened a year ago in Cappadocia, in central Turkey. At that time, not so long ago believe me, the EDV Center Est held their convention there.
During a meal between two stuffed vine leaves, travel agents got to know TURSAB. A powerful union that has been able to bite the dust at one of the largest platforms in the sector.
To read : Turkey: who is TURSAB, the AGV union which had Booking banned?
Despite the fact that the Booking.com site is translated into 43 languages and offers more than 29 million accommodations in more than 145,000 destinations, spread over 229 countries and territories, there is a small village of die-hards, where its existence has been. crossed out of the lines of code: Turkey.
Except that this master stroke is to be relegated to the hunting scenes of a radiant past which now seems very distant. Covid 19 has been there and just like in France, power and authoritarian power do nothing, tourism is dying.
“The number of foreign visitors fell by 76%.
The loss in the domestic market also followed a similar development and the total operational loss of travel agencies was recorded at more than 80%,“says Firuz Bağlıkaya, President of TURSAB.
No prescription or voucher in Turkey, but a refund according to the decisions of the States
It must be said that distribution is still strong in the country which has around 10,000 branches. A number stopped to restore its letters of nobility to the profession, except that the pandemic does not care much for the desires of humans.
“We used taxi licenses or alcohol licenses in France. This gives real value to the registration.
An agent when he wants to resell his agency is sure to touch the cost of his license to a minimum,“explained, there is Nurten Keskin Rollier, a union adviser.
Weakened by closed borders and growing uncertainty, the fabric of points of sale has been largely heckled by sluggish sales, but not only.
There, the voucher did not exist, if the government became aware of the urgency of the situation, the professionals had to reimburse … the customers!
In the event of cancellation of package tours including air transport, either by the travel agency or by the consumer, a specific policy has been put in place.
“It was decided that refunds of air transport payments would be made by travel agencies within 14 days, from the date symbolizing the two months of the lifting of the flight bans,“deplores the head of tourism professionals.
So if a country lifts its travel bans on Turkish nationals in January 2021, then the agency will have to reimburse its customers during March 2021.
While there is no fear of the wall of reimbursements which is approaching dangerously, this measure requires tourism professionals to be connected 24 hours a day to the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
If it seems complicated, this decision is a victory for TURSAB because it allows to preserve the cash flow of travel agencies, but also to dilute reimbursements over time.
And to stop the bleeding of expenses, the union obtained the deferral of corporate tax until the beginning of June, but also social insurance premiums, withholding tax and VAT for 6 months and principal loan repayments for 3 months.
Despite state aid, the tourist industry is still devastated
A survival operation which allowed the agencies to breathe, but also to garner some contracts, since the Turks were invited, as in France, to stay in the country during the past summer.
Except that with an average salary of 811 euros per month in 2016 and luxury tourist facilities geared towards foreign customers, the State had to give a boost to allow the booking of vacations.
“The number of installments for domestic package travel has been increased to 18 months. In addition to this practice, which facilitates payments for our citizens who wish to go on vacation, vacation loans are offered by state banks,“Welcomes Firuz Bağlıkaya.
An initiative that made it possible to generate some sales, but not enough to hold the entire tourist ecosystem of a country.
“Since the beginning of June, there has been slow activity in domestic tourism in Turkey.
This was boosted by the recovery in international tourism from July, there was an influx of tourists from major markets such as Ukraine, UK, Germany and Russia.
However, the number of visitors to these markets is well below the levels of the summer seasons of previous years, laments the president of TURSAB.
While the good years, nearly 40 million visitors jostle in the ancient ruins of Ankara, on the banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul or on the fine sands of Bodrum, they were not on the 8th month of the year. than 7.2 million.
A direct shortfall that no one has been able to cover.
Partial unemployment that ends on October 31, 2020 … the fear of a skills drain
At the dawn of an autumn that promises to be murderous in France, in the tourism sector, several thousand kilometers from home, the situation is not any brighter.
“There is no tourism where there are no travel agencies.
We are facing significant job losses. Our human power is the greatest weapon in our industry, we must not lose it,“wishes Firuz Bağlıkaya, President of TURSAB.
And to save the foundations of tourism, the aids given at the start of the health crisis will have to be readjusted and customized very quickly, to cope with the extent of the damage.
Thus, an allowance for short-term jobs, a sort of local partial unemployment, was introduced and extended until the end of October. In addition, the 2020 annual membership fees, which are required by law, have been waived for all travel agencies.
This is no longer enough, the union official invites the government to go over.
“It is essential that long-term and easily accessible loan possibilities, employment assistance programs and subsidies are provided, as shown by examples available around the world.
In addition, the introduction of travel vouchers for our citizens would support domestic tourism.”
The fear is not only to see the industry experience a historic massacre, but also that talent will be permanently turned away from a sector without a future.
“One of the greatest risks to the future of the tourism industry is a decline in qualified personnel.
Therefore, the employment assistance programs that will be provided by the government are of great importance,“almost implored the boss of tourism professionals.
While TURSAB was able to bend Booking a year ago, this time the union is facing another big chunk to save its members … the Turkish state. And it is unfortunately not the most tender.
Find other papers on travel agent unions around the world:
Netherlands: local EDVs have decided to sue the airlines!
Germany: the State reimburses travel agencies for canceled commissions and margins: the State reimburses travel agencies for canceled commissions and margins
Belgium: surrealism dear to René Magritte could well have definitely the skin of tourism
Posted by Romain Pommier
Journalist – TourMaG.com
See all articles by Romain Pommier