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Consumers in Latin America are making more and more travel purchases online as individual markets begin to see higher internet penetration. In "Internet & Media 101" from September 2012, Barclays Capital forecast that Latin America will lead all world regions in online travel sales growth through 2016, increasing by more than 30% on a yearly basis through 2013.
Of course, this exponential growth is coming from an extremely small base—online travel sales in Latin America will only reach one-tenth of the US total this year, Barclays noted. However, that doesn't diminish the fact that online travel is far outpacing total travel sales growth among consumers in Latin America. While total travel sales are expected to be up only 6% in 2012, online travel sales will explode by 35% this year, after a 38% gain in 2011. By 2013, Latin America will surpass Asia-Pacific in terms of online as a percentage of total travel sales.
eMarketer estimates that there will be more than 278 million internet users across Latin America in 2013, eclipsing the number of internet users in both North America and Europe for the first time. And according to comScore's Media Metrix survey "Futuro Digital – Mexico 2012," approximately one-third of internet users in some of the largest Latin American countries used online travel sites in June 2012.
The trends are encouraging, but there's still a ways to go before these markets reach maturity. Latin America trails the worldwide average travel site reach by 7%, and consumers there are spending only about half the amount of time per visitor compared to their counterparts in other parts of the globe.
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