Nearly one-third of total German tourism revenues were generated via the internet in 2006, the study revealed. Online revenues rose to ?12.9 billion in 2006 compared to ?9.45 billion the year before. In contrast, offline distribution through travel agencies or direct sales channels such as call centres dropped from ?28.1 billion to ?27.7 billion, according to the study by research organisation Ulysses Web Tourismus. The total market grew to ?40.6 billion from ?37.5 billion, it said. Looking ahead, the study predicted online travel sales would grow to ?16.2 billion this year and to ?19.3 billion in 2008, which would be 42% of a total market worth ?45.5 billion.

The major development last year was the rapid growth of online sales for major tour operators, who now generate about 10% of revenues through the internet, the study said. Specialist operators have even stronger online sales, with nearly 15% online, due to their lack of alternatives. The so-called ?look to book? ratio, comparing the number of website hits to actual bookings, was 6.6%, according to the study. The figure was twice as high for transport companies such as airlines and railways. The study?s results were based on interviews with 357 tourism managers.

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