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Demand grows despite economic hardships, says Expedia exec

‘Travel rising’

BY ARLENE MARTIN-WILKINS Associate editor — News martina@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, December 20, 2013    

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DESPITE the 'ups and downs' of 2013, caused largely by uncertainty in the global economy and a decline in consumer confidence, demand for travel continued to increase at what executives at online travel agency (OTA) Expedia Inc describe as a "healthy rate".

"Amidst all the uncertainty, one thing remains the same: people around the world want to travel," declared Expedia Inc's CEO Mark Okerstrom as he updated representatives who had gathered at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas for the 14th annual partner conference last Thursday.

"Global travel grew five per cent in the first three quarters of 2013. A little slower in the United States and Europe, but a little faster in the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region and in Latin America and the Caribbean," he told the nearly 3,000 partner representatives, noting that demand for lodging was also moving up.

Also seeing signs of growth, Okerstrom said, was the airline industry where load factor was nearing an all-time high while traffic and capacity have seen increases of 5.3 per cent and 4.3 per cent, respectively, in the first nine months of the year.

"In fact, industry observers expect 2014 to be the year when airline industry is at one of the most profitable [places] ever," Okerstrom said.

Where Expedia Inc is concerned, he said the OTA continues to do what it has always done since its inception -- outgrow the industry.

"In the context of the travel market, we are growing about five per cent, amidst all the economic uncertainty," he said. "Expedia consistently grew in 2013 as it has always done in its history... we outgrew the travel market by a factor of three this year."

"The signs of strength continue at Expedia," he said.

"... And one of the most interesting things about Expedia is that we are reaching into the pockets of demand around the word," he said, citing Mexico, China and Hong Kong among the domains for 'pockets' of travellers.

"Again, as the travel spirit moves throughout the globe ,Expedia is expanding its boundaries and its products and services through our valued partners to different corners of the globe," he added.

Last week's conference was held under the theme 'Travel Rising' to reflect the positive movements in the travel industry.

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