Online travel sales grew by 70% in 2009 – despite the global economic downturn – reports Travelstart.co.za, a South African online travel price comparison and booking web site.

"We are naturally very pleased with our growth here in South Africa and believe that we will see an even bigger increase in figures for 2010, not only because we will be hosting the 2010 World Cup, but also because South African’s are fast becoming more reliant on the internet to research and plan travel," says Stephan Ekbergh, CEO and founder of Travelstart.
"We saw a huge influx of new business from travellers who would normally have done their travel bookings at traditional high street travel agencies. They are finding it more convenient, and in most cases, cheaper to research and compare flights, hotels and car rental online. I predict that there will be no high street agencies left five years from now."
He says South Africa seems to be following the online travel booking trend of more established internet markets such as the US and Western Europe.  In these markets, more than 40% of all hospitality revenue is generated on the internet.  In the US, 84% of travel research and planning is conducted online.
Online agencies such as Travelstart offer travellers the opportunity to compare prices and itineraries for all airlines travelling to specific routes, so they can act as their own travel agents and book travel at their own convenience.