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Spain, Italy Lead European Online Travel Growth

January 9, 2009 By: George Dooley


At the close of 2008, online leisure/unmanaged business travel bookings represented 29 percent of the €246 billion European travel industry, the world's largest regional travel market, PhoCusWright Inc. says in a new research report. The report examines the European online leisure/unmanaged business travel market as a whole, as well as via six individual key markets. The studies provide interesting comparisons with the evolving U.S. market.

PhoCusWright says online travel bookings will grow significantly faster than total gross bookings, which are projected to increase by 3 percent. Unlike the U.S., Europe will continue to see double-digit growth in online travel. However, that rate is expected to slow as online travel reaches maturity in certain European markets.

Spain: Spain remains a fast-growing European online travel market as its rail and hotel segments continue to shift share from offline channels, according to PhoCusWright’s Spanish Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition. Online travel penetration in Spain is expected to grow from 17 percent in 2007 to 26 percent in 2010. The shift from traditional channels to the Internet is expected to continue through 2010, and growth is predicted to surpass the European average.

Italy: The Italian online travel market continues to grow faster than the European average. As reported by PhoCusWright’s Italian Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition, this market is expected to grow by at least 22 percent through 2010, surpassing the European average. Online penetration is modest at 12 percent, but should reach 18 percent by 2010. Nearly half of the country's online leisure/unmanaged business-travel sales are generated by low-cost carriers.

France:
France is the second largest online travel market in Europe (behind the U.K.) with nearly one quarter of all travel booked online, according to PhoCusWright’s French Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition. Led by Air France/KLM and rail provider SNCF, online direct bookings are projected to increase 16 percent to €7.3 billion in 2008. However, online travel agencies (OTAs) are growing at an even faster pace, as both large chains and independent hotels make extensive use of this sales channel.

Germany:
PhoCusWright’s German Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition finds that more than a fifth of all German travel is now booked online. This trend is expected to continue over the next several years as the German market begins to develop its full potential. PhoCusWright forecasts that of the projected €48.2 billion German travel market, 33 percent of bookings will be made online in 2010. The hotel segment experienced the largest growth compared to previous years; online direct bookings increased by about 60 percent.

Scandinavia:
Recent PhoCusWright research finds that Scandinavia is one of the most important travel markets in Europe—and one of the fastest growing online travel markets. With online bookings of €4.9 billion in 2007, Scandinavia is predicted to "cross the chasm" by 2010, making it the second European market to generate half its bookings online (after the U.K.), according to PhoCusWright’s Scandinavian Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition.

United Kingdom: Behind the strength of tour operators and (low cost carriers) LCCs, the U.K. online travel market continues to grow in double digits, reports PhoCusWright in its United Kingdom Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition. The U.K. is the largest online travel market in Europe, more than twice the size of Germany and France, and represents more than a third of European Internet travel sales.

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