Online travel bookings in Asia seen posting hefty growthBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Travelers in Asia are expected to turn to the Internet more and more to book their flights and hotel rooms as more people in the region become more comfortable with making transactions over the Web.
“Right now, only 10 to 15 percent of travel bookings are done online,” said Dan Lynn, CEO of AirAsiaExpedia. “What we expect to happen is for that to increase to about 40 percent.”
AirAsiaExpedia is a joint venture between Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia and the world’s largest online travel agent, Expedia.com.
Lynn said Asian countries have lagged behind Europe and the United States, where close to 50 percent of all flight and accommodation bookings are done over the Web.
In an interview on Tuesday, Lynn said the growth in online travel bookings would be driven by the increase in Internet use in the region as a result of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Overall travel will also increase as more people in countries like the Philippines start to enjoy higher incomes as a result of the region’s improving economic conditions.
“Of course, budget airlines are also making travel more affordable for more people. Travel will really grow at a healthy pace, but online bookings will grow much faster because the penetration is still low,” Lynn said.
Over the next few years, Lynn said he expected the percentage of Asian travelers making online bookings to at least double.
In a separate interview, Kathleen Tan, director of AirAsiaExpedia, said the Philippines was tagged as one of the biggest growth markets for AirAsia, Expedia and their joint venture. “The Philippines has so much to offer in tourism, but it has allowed their neighbors to get ahead in the last decade,” said Tan.
This week, AirAsiaExpedia announced the launch of Expedia.com.ph, the third localized site for a country in Southeast Asia. The new site, which will allow travelers to book their plane tickets, hotel rooms and tour packages in one site, is expected to help spur the growth in Philippine tourism, Tan said. Similar sites—Expedia.com.sg for Singapore and Expedia.co.th for Thailand—were launched last year.
The Philippine government expects tourist arrivals to grow to 10 million by 2016 from four million in 2011.
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