How to unblock Booking.com in Turkey?

Last Updated by Gray Williams on October 22, 2018

Booking.com is one of the top travel websites in the world, with close to 29 million listings spread across nearly 140,000 locations in 229 countries and territories worldwide. According to the site’s own marketing department, it is available in 43 languages and customers book upwards of 1.5 million room nights over the course of 24 hours.

The site is not without its controversies, however.  There have been reports of leaked customer data and complaints over unfair trade practices from nations including UK, Germany, and Russia.

No country has been more outspoken against Booking.com’s practices than Turkey, which installed a ban of the website inside its borders on 30 March 2017 and has yet to lift it. Despite the sanctions against the website, there are still avenues available to safely access and use Booking.com when you are located inside Turkish borders.

Turkey’s ban of Booking.com

In March 2017, a Turkish court ordered Booking.com to be blocked by all of the country’s ISPs based on a dispute with the Association of Turkish Travel Agents (TURSAB). TURSAB claimed in court that Bookin.com was engaged in unfair competition based on its hotel marketing campaigns.

Booking.com released a written statement in its defense which read:

“As an e-commerce and technology company, we are convinced that we contribute to healthy competition in the market by offering Turkish consumers a transparent and easy platform to compare and book accommodation all over the world.”

Booking.com estimates that it has partnerships with some 13,000 Turkish businesses.

In July 2018, the Istanbul 5th Commercial Court of First Instance ruled against Booking.com and found that the ban will be maintained for the immediate future.

Along with the ban on its website, Booking.com was fined TRY2.544 million (US$419,613).

TURSAB released a statement saying it pursued the complain to protect its member travel agencies. The statement clarifies that searching for accommodations in Turkey from from around the world is permitted, as is browsing facilities located in other countries. The website goes on to claim that laws specifically defining domestic activities in Turkey are the reason for the filing.

The Virtual Private Network Solution

If you live in Turkey and want to use the domestic hotel service through Booking.com, your best option to do so safely and securely is to employ a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs allow you to mask your computer’s location and identity for the purpose of privacy as well as unlocking sites blocked by geolocation. A VPN works by downloading its software to your Internet-ready device. When you run the app, it creates a secured, private network between your computer and a remote server located outside your current country. Some VPNs have thousands of servers to pick from, so you can select the one that makes the most sense to you, such as what country it is in, how many people are currently using it, or how fast it is.

Once you’re connected, you can begin sending requests to the Internet, including booking.com. The requests you send are encrypted as they pass from your location to the remote server. There, your information is decrypted and assigned a new IP address. The remote server then sends it on the website of your choice. When you retrieve data from the website, it is sent first to the remote server, where it is encrypted, sent through the private network back to your location, and decrypted for your consumption. In normal practices, if you got onto Booking.com from a computer located in Turkey and tried to access the domestic hotel reservations page, your ISP would block the connection and give you an error message or a warning page. When you use a VPN, the network between your location and the remote server resembles a subway tunnel. Your ISP knows that there’s a train running through the tunnel, but can’t see what the people look like onboard. Similarly, your ISP can tell that you are connected to the Internet and alternately uploading/downloading data, but it cannot see what websites you are visiting.

For viewing Booking.com, you should consider VPN providers with strong security systems and a lot of servers in the Turkish region to cut down on slow speeds. NordVPN is one to consider for the task, frequently rated as the best overall service in the industry.  It as more than 4,400 servers spread across 60 countries and 256-bit encryption capacity. ExpressVPN is consistently rated as the fastest service around and has impressive security, but the goods are tempered by a higher price. Meanwhile, Private VPN lives up to its name as a security enforcer, with 2048-bit encryption and a very strict no-logs policy.

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Gray Williams
Gray Williams is an experienced data and communications engineer and cross-platform copy and content writer and editor with a keen interest in cybersecurity. He has been working with and researching, VPNs and other online privacy tools for many years.