Huge increase in European online sales

European online travel bookings in 2007 took a bigger share of an increasing market, according to the latest annual study from a Scandinavian research centre.

Denmark’s Center For Regional & Tourism Research has found that in 2007, European online travel sales increased by 24% to £37.2 billion, accounting for 19.4% of the market. Last year online was worth £29.9 billion, or 16% of the market.

The growth is set to continue, with CRT tipping 2008’s total to come in at £44 billion, or 22.5% of the overall market. 2009 could see online take over a quarter of the market with sales of £52.7 billion.

CRT has produced the study annually with stats going back to 1998. While the volume of online sales has increased regularly over the past decade, the growth in percentage terms has slowed. 2007’s 26% increase in sales compares with a year-on-year lift between 05 and 06 of 31%.

The UK accounted for 30% of the European online travel market in 2007, or £11.2 billion. This is the UK’s lowest share of the overall market since 1999.

Southern Europe is seeing the largest growth, with users in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece accounting for 14% in 2007.

Southern Europe now has a share comparable with France and bigger than the Nordic region, and has been growing steadily since 2003 when it had only 8% of the overall market.

Supplier direct versus intermediaries appears to have settled down, with 207’s breakdown showing 65% of business going direct with intermediaries accounting for 35%. This two third one third split has been in evidence since 2004.

The academics also offer a breakdown by product.

Air travel accounts for 57%; beds 17%, package tours 14.5%; rail 7.5%; rental cars and car ferries 4%. Again, this split has been fairly constant for the past couple of years.

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