Rosy forecasts by online travel research companies appear set to hit a reality check with alternative consumer surveys showing high levels of concern about online purchasing due to fears about privacy and identity theft.

A new survey of US Internet users for Consumer Reports WebWatch says that Internet users are becoming "more demanding of web sites, less trusting and adjusting their behaviour in response to what they see as very real threats in the online world".

Although travel web sites were not covered directly by the survey, its findings of other online sites such as finance, e-commerce and news have considerable implications for airlines, hotels and the entire travel and tourism industry, which generates more sales than any other category of online commerce.

However, the growing incidence of online fraud, identity theft and access to personal information entered by users is clearly having an impact, as indicated by the WebWatch survey.

It said: "For all online users, concern about identity theft is substantially greater than simple concern about theft of credit card information. Four in five Internet users (80%) are at least somewhat concerned that someone could steal their identity from personal information, that is on the Internet.

Get the full story at the Bangkok Post