Without predicting when it would happen, both Priceline.com, the No. 4 U.S. online travel agency, and travel search site SideStep see Asia as the next frontier, their CEOs said at the 2007 Reuters Hotels and Casinos Summit in Los Angeles.

The race to establish footholds in Asia is part of a trend among travel sites, which have almost saturated U.S. markets and must look abroad for growth opportunities.

"We view the Asian markets as very attractive," Priceline Chief Executive Jeff Boyd said. "A travel destination attractive to Americans and Europeans."

Priceline built its reputation with a "name-your-own-price" auction service, but it now also sells traditional air fares and hotel bookings.

Priceline's presence in Asia, where it owns 15 percent of an Internet travel business, is very small. But Boyd said it will eventually apply the same tactics in Asia that led the company to more than double its European bookings in the fourth quarter of 2006.

Priceline's growth in Europe has been largely by acquisition. In 2005, it purchased Bookings.com, the business that propelled much of its European expansion.

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