Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry has expressed protest to Booking.com, the Netherlands-based travel fare aggregator website, for providing reservation services to hotels operating in the occupied Azerbaijani territories.
“We have several times appealed to Booking.com in a bid to prevent such activities,” Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmat Hajiyev told APA on Friday.
He noted that such activities of Booking.com run contrary to the norms and principles of international law, the Charter and relevant decision of the UN World Tourism Organization and its Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.
“According to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism of the World Tourism Organization, when traveling, tourists and tourism companies should not commit any criminal act or any act considered criminal by the laws of the country visited and should respect its laws,” Hajiyev said.
The spokesman recalled that at its 100th session in Croatia in May 2015, the UNWTO Executive Council, on the proposal of Azerbaijan, considered recommendations of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics entitled “Prevention of promotion of conflict zones as tourism destinations and using tourism for illegal purposes”, and adopted a decision urging governments, as well as public and private stakeholders in the tourism sector, to observe and respect the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism as well as all ethical principles embodied in the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, in all circumstances, including during armed conflicts.
He stressed that such activities of Booking.com contradict the ethnics of corporate business and damage the company’s own image.
“While Azerbaijan’s occupied territories are closed for legal international money transfer, online payments are made via Booking.com to make hotel reservations in occupied territories and the company makes profit. This fact has to be considered in the context of illegal international money transfer and money laundering,” Hajiyev added.
Given the norms and principles of international law, the UNWTO Charter and relevant decisions, the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, Booking.com should stop encouraging travel agencies and booking hotels in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, the spokesman said.
“In conjunction with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, we have given appropriate instructions to the Azerbaijani embassy in the Netherlands, which is the country housing the headquarters of Booking.com, in order to bring Azerbaijan’s discontent to the company's attention and prevent such illegal activities. We’re also planning to contact the regional branches of Booking.com and international structures,” Hajiyev added.