Ups and downs of European online travel

eMarketer estimates that online travel sales in the five major travel markets of Europe – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – will total nearly $49 billion this year, up 27% over 2006. That’s the good news.

“Over the next four years, as the European online travel market matures, sales growth in the sector will steadily decrease,” says Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer Senior Analyst and the author of the new report, European Online Travel. “Conversely, that means competition for online travel dollars is going to increase.”

After peaking in 2005, personal travel and tourism spending growth (online and offline) by the 25 European Union member states entered a moderate phase, as evidenced by data published by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

“This year, spending by the EU-25 members is expected to grow only 2.4% over last year,” says Mr. Grau. “The newest members of the European Union — Eastern European nations such as Poland and the Czech Republic — will play a key role in stimulating future growth.”

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