The growth of independent holiday operators and cheap flights online means that by next year a third of all travel will be booked via the internet, according to recent research.
A study carried out by industry research group PhoCusWright concluded that the amount of people booking cheap flights online for leisure or business purposes is set to increase twice as quickly as the rest of the travel market. The total value worldwide of online booking is predicted to increase to £188.7 billion) by 2012.
In total the number of online bookings for cheap flights will increase by 6 per cent both this year and the next, it said.
High street travel agents have already been feeling the pinch over the past decade, as package holidays become increasingly displaced by “custom-made” holidays booked online. These are popular as people are increasingly willing to find their own combination of cheap flights with low-cost airlines and cheap hotel accommodation.
Researchers examined four major travel regions across the globe, concluding that cheap flights to Asia and Latin America were set for the largest increases in online bookings.
Cheap flights to the USA and Europe will also remain popular. However. with an increase in the number of independent web-based operators serving the burgeoning interest in Latin America and Asia holidays, their combined share of the market will decline to 73 per cent by the end of next year, PhoCusWright said.
“As online penetration growth in the more mature US and European travel markets slows, travel companies are looking to the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions for the next pot of gold,” the company’s vice-president of research Lorraine Sileo said.
“In these emerging markets, macro-economic gains, increased travel and growing technology adoption will continue to fuel significant growth in online bookings.”