Online travel services on the rise Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday this year caused problems for some employees because working days and rest days were split.

However, it had little effect on sales of flights and hotel bookings as China's burgeoning travel market enjoyed a seasonal boom.

The country's largest online travel agent, International Ltd, said the number of orders during the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday had increased year-on-year, especially for hotels and flights to Shanghai, where the World Expo was held this year.

Nasdaq-listed did not disclose specific figures for its orders but said the increase was "obvious", in an e-mail to China Daily., a latecomer to the online travel market which launched its travel platform in May, said total sales of flight tickets, hotels and entrance tickets on Taobao have increased by 40 to 50 percent since August compared with the non-peak season.

Taobao earlier said the flights sold on its travel platform numbered 10,000 every day. More than 200 travel agents have set up online stores on Taobao since May.

The long holiday and the Shanghai World Expo will help accelerate the popularity of booking flight tickets, hotels and other travel-related services online, industry experts said.

According to domestic research firm iResearch Consulting Group, total online sales of flight tickets, hotel services and package travel products are expected to reach 4.75 billion yuan (709.91 millionU.S. dollars) this year, an increase of 27 percent year-on-year. The figure is forecast to rise to 9 billion yuan by 2013.

New players have entered the online travel market with the hope of cashing in.

Chinese Internet conglomerate Tencent Holdings Ltd will open a travel site "in the near future", according to a notice from the company. Tencent, in fact, launched the site in September. It provided bookings for flights and hotels but was later suspended and has been available only to invited users for beta testing.

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Editor: Anne Tang
Source: China Daily