At the close of 2008, online leisure/unmanaged business travel bookings are projected to represent 29 percent of the ?246 billion European travel industry, the world's largest regional travel market. According to PhoCusWright's European Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition, online travel bookings will grow significantly faster than total gross bookings, which are projected to increase by 3 percent. Unlike the United States, 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.

PhoCusWright research finds a huge disparity in online penetration of leisure/unmanaged business travel among European regions. In 2007, mature markets like the United Kingdom and Scandinavia completed 40 percent and 37 percent of travel gross bookings online, respectively. In markets such as Italy and Spain, penetration was below 20 percent in 2007. These regions will continue to afford an opportunity for both supplier Web sites and online travel agencies to grow share. PhoCusWright's European Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition details market penetration in France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Global economic challenges have put pressure on European travel growth in 2008, and will be a key factor in 2009. Cuts in travel spending will soften overall travel demand and heighten consumer price sensitivity. At the same time, operators will push more travel business online to drive cost savings. This presents an opportunity for online channels to flourish, with complementary forces of demand and supply drawing consumers to the Internet marketplace. PhoCusWright's European Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition highlights the growth of online travel and performance of key online players in each country and industry segment. This latest edition provides achieved performance figures for 2006--2007 and projections through 2010.

Additional industry trends from PhoCusWright's European Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition include:

- Traditional air carriers are gaining ground as low-cost carriers reach online saturation. European traditional carriers set all time Internet sales records, achieving 22 percent online penetration in 2007.
- The hotel segment holds great potential for both supplier Web sites and online travel agencies (OTAs). Online bookings grew 30 percent in 2007.
- The European rail segment is experiencing solid gains and rail Web site bookings will increase by ?1.2 billion in 2008.
- Tour operators are building their online brands successfully in certain mature European markets. Gross bookings of tour operator Web sites grew by 12.4 percent in 2007.

Related Link: PhoCusWright, Inc.