Despite EU sanctions, hotel rooms available in Crimea

For four years, sanctions have prohibited EU companies from offering services to tourists in Crimea. However, booking.com still has hotel reservations there for business travelers. Is the company skirting sanctions?

Search results for tourist accommodations in Crimea no longer appear on the website booking.com. Instead, the the company offers the following message: “We’re sorry, it’s not possible to make leisure reservations in Crimea at this time on our website.”

Reports that the international booking agency had stopped offering services in Crimea on July 16 sparked outrage in Russia. Lawmakers in Russia’s parliament, the Duma, jumped on the reports to once again condemn European Union sanctions.

Brussels imposed the punitive measures four years ago in protest to Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. The sanctions prohibit EU businesses from offering tourists services in Crimea. Officially, Dutch company booking.com ended services for tourists in 2014, insisting instead that offers were “exclusively for business travelers.” Still, anyone looking for accommodation in Crimea on booking.com could find them. Such searches were only blocked in instances when users actually declared they were tourists. Now it seems booking.com has changed that. (Read more…)