Third-quarter financial results show strong growth for online travel operators fighting for a share of China's $60bn domestic tourism market.
Total sales at Ctrip, the country's largest online travel company, will jump from $41m last year to about $63m this year, according to Deutsche Bank, which includes transactions completed offline as well as online.
China's travel industry has been transformed in recent years by the gradual easing of stifling regulations. Previously the government had strictly controlled the travel business, including any foreign investment in travel companies.
State-owned agencies and tour operators which used to dominate have mostly been unable take advantage of the opportunities offered by a more open market and greater personal mobility.
Meanwhile Ctrip and eLong, the earliest entrants to the online travel business, have found it comparatively easy to forge relationships with hotels, airlines and other travel service providers, because they initially faced little competition.
Founded in 1999, the two companies began operating mainly as travel consolidators, selling hotel bookings and other travel services to agents and individuals over the phone, but have begun focusing on online sales in recent years.
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