Italy probes Booking.com for alleged abuse of dominant position


Italy's competition watchdog said on Friday that it has opened a probe into Booking.com to establish whether the travel website is abusing its dominant market position.

The watchdog, AGCM, said that the website's handling of hotels that are part of Booking.com's Preferred Partner Programme "seems likely to hinder effective competition in the market, at least nationwide, for online hotel brokerage and reservation services".

This strategy is "to the detriment of other online travel agents with negative effects on accommodation facilities and, ultimately, on consumers in terms of higher prices and less choice," the authority said in a statement.

It added that Italian tax police Guardia di Finanza had carried out searches at Booking.com's Italian offices.

"We are fully cooperating with the Guardia di Finanza and the Italian competition authority who visited our offices in Italy yesterday," a Booking.com spokesperson said.

"While we will work with the authorities, we absolutely believe that concerns around competition should be handled with the EU directly, in line with their current regulatory proposals – not additionally on a country by country basis," a company spokeswoman added.


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