Online travel sites are continuing to be one of the success stories of internet businesses, according to new research. The European online travel market is set to be worth more than 20bn euros (£12.2bn) by 2006, research from Jupiter MMXI found, up from about 7.4bn euros (£4.5bn) this year. Several sites have more than doubled their audience over the past year, including Expedia.co.uk and Go-fly.com in the UK, and Lastminute.com in Germany. Use of the net to buy airline tickets has proved extremely popular, especially thanks to the rapid growth of low-cost carriers, and four of the top ten UK travel sites are for airlines. The UK is the biggest online travel market in Europe, according to Jupiter MMXI, with nearly six million visitors last month, while Germany is the second biggest with 5.1m visits in January. Although people are getting used to buying train and airline tickets through the internet, Jupiter MMXI says that when it comes to booking an entire holiday the High Street is “currently more immediate then the response from online travel companies”. ”Most travel sites currently fail to help visitors sufficiently in their decision-making process and miss an opportunity to turn browsers into online shoppers.”

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