Less than a decade ago, the arrival of huge online travel agents such as Expedia revolutionised the way we bought holidays and gave even the hardened technophobe a reason to log on to the internet.

But now a new wave of interactive travel sites that allow holidaymakers to post their own hotel reviews and destination advice are attracting just as many browsers looking for up-to-the-minute, honest information that can't be found in guidebooks.

Unlike sites such as Travelocity and Expedia, which sell the components of holidays - flights, car hire, hotels - the new 'social' or 'me media' sites allow readers to swap information about holidays, chat or make friends. The most popular of these 'user-generated content' sites is Tripadvisor.com, which launched six years ago and now receives 20 million visitors a month worldwide - the same number as Lastminute.com, which was rated the most visited 'destinations and accommodation' website in the UK for 2005.

Although Tripadvisor is funded by advertising and is owned by Expedia, its principal purpose is to provide a place for people to post independent reviews, and share information. It is updated by readers every minute.

Current most-visited pages include a posting about family holidays to Niagara Falls and what to see in Boston. Chatroom discussions include where to buy Russian military memorabilia in Moscow and how one should dress in Paris.

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