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Internet travel market expected to grow by 70%
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The value of China's online travel market is to reach 3.84 billion yuan (519 million US dollars) this year, with a projected growth rate of 70.7 percent, according to a nationwide survey.


The survey showed that China's online travel services market was worth 2.25 billion (300 million US dollars) in 2007, with an estimated 65 percent expansion for the industry from 2006.


Shanghai-based online travel service provider (NASDAQ:CTRP) still held a steady command of the market with the highest penetration in large primary and second-tier cities, the survey showed.


"There are two reasons for the acceleration: the Beijing Olympic Games and the further opening up of the domestic tourism market," said Fu Zhihua, director of the Data Center of the China Internet (DCCI) research department that conducted the survey.


The effect was felt industry-wide, benefiting other players such as eLong (NASDAQ: LONG), China's second-biggest online travel agency, and Mango launched by the Hong Kong China Travel Services (HKCTS) in 2005.


The survey indicated that in two or three years, traditional and online travel agents will keep consolidating.


The Netguide 2008 survey also forecast the trade volume would rise to 7.32 billion yuan (989 million US dollars) in 2009.


The survey, begun in January 2007, polled more than 300 websites, 270 enterprises and 50,786 people around the country.


(Xinhua News Agency January 23, 2008)


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