Visits to Australian travel websites slumped across all major categories by up to -4% in the 4th quarter of 2013, according to Experian Hitwise, raising concerns that the normally buoyant January quarter may be also flat.

“Traditionally this period sees an increase,” Experian Hitwise commented. “Perhaps it’s time for the industry to review performance expectations for the start of 2014.

Accommodation fell -2% from the 3rd quarter, agencies were down -4%  while airlines fell -3%.

“If total visits continue to decline, it would be an important shift from the growth trend observed in recent years.”

Experian Hitwise said the Accommodation and Destinations category remained the most popular with more than 200 million visits.

“While TripAdvisor remained in the top position, it was sites such as Agoda and Stayz that surged up the ranks.

“Agency sites, which provide bookings for travel services such as package holidays, flights and tours, had the largest relative drop of -4%.

“Commercial Airlines also saw a fall in total visits.

“This demonstrates that the demand for travel between October and December was less than in the previous months.

“Virgin clawed back some market share from Jetstar and Qantas, regaining third position.”

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