The battle to capture a share of the world's newest outbound tourist market, mainland China, is increasingly shifting to a new frontier: the internet.
In the latest move Expedia, the world's largest online travel company, has announced plans to upgrade the library of international hotel information on eLong, its 52 per cent-owned Chinese website.

Expedia will supply its China unit with a large database of international hotel profiles, including reviews translated into Chinese, as well as photos and virtual tours.

Expedia's move to upgrade eLong's content is driven by the expectation that Chinese travellers will venture abroad in greater numbers and turn to the internet to plan journeys.

About 30 million Chinese travelled overseas in each of the past two years. Total revenue from domestic and international travel reached 768.6 billion yuan ($126 billion) in 2005, up 12.4 per cent from the year before.

More Chinese are using the web to organise business and leisure trips.

Shanghai's iResearch predicts China's online travel market will expand from 850 million yuan last year to 3.71 billion yuan by 2010.

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