In keeping with its image in many areas as a global behemoth, China's online travel market continues to expand at an extremely fast rate. Unmanaged online business travel and leisure bookings are growing at a rate three times faster than that of the overall travel market, according to recent figures from PhoCusWright.
Immense Appetite for International Travel
Despite this year's slowdown of the once runaway Chinese economy, China's travel market continues to defy the national trend, as a result of the burgeoning Chinese middle classes and their immense appetite for international travel. China has now been named the largest travel market in Asia Pacific, and is expected to experience ongoing double-digit growth in travel bookings through 2015, according to a new PhoCusWright Global and Asia Pacific Edition report. Indeed, Chinese travellers continue to purchase travel products and services online at a rate that shows no sign of letting up.
Fierce Competition Among Chinese Travel Suppliers
According to one of PhoCusWright's research analysts, despite ongoing economic challenges, the Chinese middle class is hungry for independent travel and has been taking advantage of increasing options for online searching, shopping and buying. There is still huge potential for growth in the Chinese online travel market, as online travel penetration currently lags far behind regional competitors Australia, New Zealand and Japan at 15%. Consequently, competition among travel suppliers and intermediaries has become extremely fierce.
Homegrown OTAs Lead the Way
Online travel gross bookings will more than double between 2012 and 2015 to exceed US$30 billion, according to the 6th edition of PhoCusWright's China Online Travel Overview. Online travel agencies, led by homegrown players Ctrip and eLong, will continue to experience substantial gains, despite losing some of their online share to hotel and airline websites. Lurking just across the horizon we can expect a whole new species of online intermediaries to soon make themselves known. This includes an increasingly transactional group of meta-search sites and online shopping malls that have increased their focus on the travel market.
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