21 June, 2007: The value of online travel sales in Europe will reach $49 billion this year but growth levels will start to decline from 2008.
The prediction came from US market research firm eMarketer which said sales growth is expected to slow through to 2011 as the three largest online markets – the UK, Germany and France – continue to mature.
The UK is the largest market in Western Europe, capturing 45% of the $36.1 billion of online sales in 2006.
This will drop to 41% in four years as Germany, Spain and Italy are growing at a faster rate and will gain a grater share of online sales, according to eMarketer´s European Online Travel report.
Growth levels of 27% this year are forecast to slow to 20% in 2008 to give a value of $59.5 billion, reducing to 17% in 2009 ($70 billion), 13% in 2010 ($74 billion) and 10% in 2011 ($80.7 billion).
The report highlights global trends as affecting the European tourism market over the next five to 10 years. Shifting demographics, macroeconomic trends, technological innovations and climate change are having a "significant impact".
Declining online sales growth over the next four years will present new challenges for online travel agencies and suppliers, according to report author and senior analyst Jeffrey Grau.
He said: "One opportunity is the lucrative segment of consumers who organise group events on social networking sites, some of which are specifically devoted to travel."