The Competition Authority of Iceland searched the premises of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association and travel agencies on Friday due to suspicion of fixed pricing which hinders competition and is illegal.
The Competition Authority was given permission for the search at the District Court of Reykjavík. Computer data, emails and accounting information were confiscated. RÚV reports.
The Competition Authority searched the offices of the company Ferdaskrifstofa Íslands, which runs the travel agencies Úrval Útsýn, Plús Ferdir and Sumarferdir, the offices of the travel agencies Heimsferdir and Terra Nova and of the Travel Industry Association.
Erna Hauksdóttir, the manager of the Travel Industry Association, told RÚV the Competition Authority had become suspicious after a meeting where the exchange-rate fluctuation had been discussed and a newsletter where the Association had explained to restaurant owners how to change the price of food after the VAT was lowered.
Hauksdóttir said the Competition Authority also wanted to investigate whether competition laws had been violated in relation to coordinated regulations at car rentals.
Hauksdóttir said regulations on car rentals had been agreed upon at the Ministry of Transport in cooperation with the Travel Industry Association, the Association of Icelandic Insurance Companies and the Consumer Agency, so they were hardly illegal, she concluded.
“The Association is no platform for illegal price fixing,” Hauksdóttir said.
Representatives of all other travel agencies that are being investigated by the Competition Authority denied that competition laws had been violated with fixed pricing.
The manager of Úrval Útsýn, Thorsteinn Gudjónsson told RÚV that the Competition Authority was only doing its job, but said he was not afraid it would find anything illegal.
“The competition has probably never been better or stronger than today,” Gudjónsson said.