Europeans love online travel agencies, up 10% this year

London, England, EuropeIt looks like the internet is no longer a fad … at least not in Europe. Forecasts from travel market research firm PhoCusWright put 2010 growth in the European online travel industry at 10 percent, a smile-inducing turn from the 1 percent gain posted last year, not to mention 11 percent decline in 2009 for the entire European travel market (which is up only 2 percent this year, it appears).

This makes sense, given the data recently released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which shows a hefty increase in travel to the United States from foreign markets.

“For travelers who may have been hesitant to book online, the recession provided the extra push they needed,” says Carroll Rheem, director, research at PhoCusWright. “Deal seekers turned to the Internet, and online travel agencies in particular, to find affordable options.”

The strength of the online travel agency sector was noted as a reason for last year’s resilience, according to a statement from PhoCusWright, “The buoyancy of the online market is due largely to the strength of the online travel agency channel, which grew in 2009, while supplier websites slipped.”

Rheem adds, “Hotel bookings are fueling online travel agency growth in Europe, with brands like Priceline‘s Booking.com maintaining extraordinarily high growth rates.” Further, it looks like online travel agency action is “on track for strong double-digit growth in 2010.”

[photo by Trodel via Flickr]