By Martin Kelly
 
JAPAN, Australia and New Zealand are the clear leaders of the Asia Pacific online travel industry pack.
 
According to researcher PhoCusWright, Japan is out in front with a 38 per cent market share by dollar value, while Australia and New Zealand have 30 per cent.
 
However, it is worth noting that Japan has a population of 127 million, compared with just 24 million for Australia and New Zealand.
 
The next biggest Asian markets by dollar value, says PhoCusWright, are South Korea (eight per cent), Singapore (seven per cent), China (six per cent), and Hong Kong (three per cent).
 
Then come Taiwan, Malaysia, and India, all on two per cent. The rest of Asia – and there’s still a few countries to go – comprise just three per cent of the total Asia Pacific online marketplace.
 
PhoCusWright doesn’t see the Asian status quo shifting that much over the next three years, forecasting steady growth.
 
By the end of this year analyst Ram Badrinathan estimates that online leisure/unmanaged business travel industry in Asia Pacific will grow 31 per cent to US$15.9 billion.
 
That figure is set to reach US$25.6 billion by 2007 – or 61 per cent growth over two years.
 
However, “payment systems remain a key obstacle. The pure e-commerce model, where purchase and fulfillment are completed seamlessly through the Web, is not a reality in most markets except Australia.
 
“Suppliers and travel service providers that have developed innovative work-arounds to deal with market issues will be most successful.”
 
He adds: “Most online agencies in APAC are seizing the lodging opportunity.
 
“In a region where less than 10 per cent of the room supply is managed by chains, online agencies see explosive growth in hotel aggregation and automation.
 
“These businesses, while widely needed, are slow to develop. Online travel agencies will still be roughly half the size of the supplier-direct channel –which includes the booming low-cost carrier segment – in 2007.”
 
Ends.
 
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