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Online booking grows in Central and Eastern Europe
Online booking grows in Central and Eastern Europe

Central and Eastern Europe mark an impressive growth in online booking according to EyeforTravel 2007 research. The period 2005/6 saw a 200% increase in online booking growth in the Czech Republic with  figures of up to 50% in Slovenia and Slovakia.

The recently released ‘European Online Travel report 2007’ analyses the key trends European online travel and what lies ahead in 2010. Whilst the largest online markets remain in the UK and Germany, exciting growth trends are becoming apparent in Central and Eastern Europe.

A highly diverse and fragmented region, it is widely misunderstood and bundled together as one, yet figures indicate vast differentials in internet penetration, ICT, payment infrastructure and economic growth. Whereas three quarters of Bulgarians and Romanians have never used the internet, Slovenia sees 55% internet penetration with an 11% uptake of broadband increasing by 45% annually. Internet penetration in the Czech Republic (+50%), and Slovakia (+46%), are far ahead of Poland (+29%), Romania and Bulgaria (both 21%).

Internet use in the Baltic States has grown significantly in the past 5 years. In Estonia, more than 60% of individuals use the internet regularly – at least once a week – and the market grew significantly in the last 3 years by a constant 10.45% rate.

But perhaps the most significant trend is in Russia, which stands with the highest rate of internet adoption of more than 600% since 2000 (according to Internet World Stats). With a population of over 141 million this represents a vast new player in the online market place. Even with such a high adoption rate however, internet penetration is still only represents 15.5% of the population. Russia’s enormous potential will be the subject of discussion at EyeforTravel’s upcoming Emerging Online Travel Markets conference, 26-27 November.

Rapid growth in internet usage and booming tourism to the CEE region has resulted in the advent of numerous e-travel companies in the region. Adriatica.net (Croatia), Travelplanet.pl (Poland) and TravelStoreMaker.com (Bulgaria) are just some of the regions rising stars.

Whilst Poland is an estimated 3-4 years behind the UK, Travelplanet has used innovative techniques to encourage rapid migration online and overcome the current Polish trend to look online and book offline with impressive results.

Tomasz Moroz, President, Travelplanet.pl will be speaking EyeforTravel’s upcoming Travel Distribution Central & Eastern Europe conference to take place in Prague, 5-6 November. He will be joined by Mr. Marko Vojkovic, President of the Board, Adriatica.net Group, and Petar Panayatov, CEO, TravelStoreMaker.com as well as leading speakers from hotels, airlines and tour operators including LOT Polish Airlines to discuss the latest trends, challenges and opportunities in online travel in the region.

The 2 day conference will approach topics such as the challenges of selling online, examine key consumer behaviour trends and how to optimise distribution and marketing strategies in the region. With online sales in Eastern Europe forecast to be worth 1.86 billion by 2010 and expected Internet penetration 46%, many online players are already recognising the vast potential of this region.

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