Travel planning and booking on the Web are among the most popular online activities in major e-commerce markets, and online travel sales are growing at an explosive rate (over $115 billion this year) in the US, Europe and the Asia-Pacific regions.

eMarketer's new report, Online Travel Worldwide, examines global market trends and spotlights data from the largest markets, including the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia/New Zealand, and the US, plus the huge emerging Chinese market. Worldwide spending for personal travel will reach $2.8 trillion in 2005, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, a London-based business forum for the travel-tourism industry.

"Without question, the Internet has shaken up the status quo in the travel industry," says Jeffrey Grau, Senior Analyst at eMarketer and author of the Online Travel Worldwide report. "Traditional travel agencies are struggling to stay relevant, online travel agencies are trying to instill loyalty among their customers, travel search engines are the new upstarts, travel suppliers are flexing their muscles and global distribution systems are looking for ways to reverse their waning influence."

Merrill Lynch estimates included in the report show that direct travel suppliers will have a 54% share and online travel agencies, a 46% share of the $62 billion US online travel market in 2005.

Nielsen//NetRatings research found that 54% of online travel shoppers start travel planning at an online travel Web site because of the one-stop shopping convenience. Feedback Research also found that 73% of respondents who purchased travel online researched travel at a general site, but then went to a specific company's site to book travel, attributing their decision to lower prices and special deals.