The most popular destination for travelers continues to be the Internet. Forty-seven million Americans bought travel online in 2005, about 7 million more than in 2004, according to PhoCusWright, a Connecticut-based travel research firm.

This year, travelers will spend about $79 billion online for leisure and self-booked business travel, it says.

"Record numbers of consumers traveled in the U.S. in 2005 and a record number of consumers used the Internet" for planning travel, said Hugo Burge, vice chairman of travel website Cheapflights.com.

The evolution in consumers' use of the Internet for planning and purchasing travel, and changes in how online sellers of travel interact with their customers fueled the growth.

Front and center was the increase in online travel communities and user-generated content, such as consumer reviews of hotels and websites where travelers can post photos, said Lorraine Sileo, an analyst with PhoCusWright. One such site is TripAdvisor (now owned by Expedia Inc.), which has 18 million visitors a month and garners more than 2.6 million consumer reviews, making it among the most popular travel websites.

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