The world's US$300 billion (Dh1.1 trillion) online travel industry is a tempting growth prospect for Google.
In mature markets such as the US and Europe, online booking of tickets for travel is becoming the preferred method and the trend is spreading fast.
Developing regions such as South America and parts of the Middle East are the next big growth markets for online travel.
By the end of next year, one third of the world's travel sales will be booked online, according to a report by the travel research company PhoCusWright. Online bookings will grow twice as fast as the total travel market, surpassing $313bn by next year, it adds. PhoCusWright forecasts global travel bookings will increase 6 per cent this year and next as the market recovers from 2009 losses.
The report covers four major regions: Europe; the US; Asia-Pacific; and Latin America. But, of the four, the US and Europe represent more than three quarters of online sales but less than two thirds of total travel sales.
Forrester Research predicts US online purchases of airline tickets will top $59bn by 2014. But the company adds the US market may be reaching maturity and the era of double-digit market growth is fading fast.
As online growth in the US and European travel markets slows, travel companies are now looking to the developing markets for "the next pot of gold".
PhoCusWright predicts as online travel bookings in the emerging markets of Asia-Pacific and Latin America accelerate, combined share for Europe and the US will fall to 73 per cent next year and then continue to decline.