More Hong Kong people are turning to the Web for travel information, including ticket fares, but online booking remains low. Despite the overseas success of global brands such as Expedia and Travelocity, Hong Kong Web surfers have shown an overwhelming preference for local businesses. Peter Steyn, an analyst at AC Nielsen's NetRatings Internet traffic-tracking service, said that even though travel site usage had grown 47 per cent year on year, the average number of pages per e-travel visitor declined 26 per cent during the same time, and the average time spent per e-travel visitor fell 7.7 per cent. AC Nielsen said that in December 2000, the average time spent per person on a travel site was 18 minutes. In December last year, it dropped to 16 minutes 40 seconds. Mr Steyn said these findings suggested that though more people visited travel sites, they were browsing less and spending less time as they became more familiar with their favourite travel sites and knew what they were looking for. The increase in households with broadband access in Hong Kong, which has grown 47 per cent in the past seven months, allowed users to obtain travel information they needed in a shorter time, he said. AC Nielsen's latest report on e-travel activity lists Cathay Pacific's Web site as the most visited travel site for the past two years. Of 183,000 visitors checking travel sites in December 2000, more than 39,500 visited Cathay's site. Last year, the figures were 35,000 out of 124,000. Traffic to travel sites peaked in November for the busy seasons during Christmas and Lunar New Year. Most of the top 20 travel sites Hong Kong people use are local. Travel sites operated by big local travel agencies Wing On Travel and Hong Thai Travel were the second and third-most visited last year. Hong Kong people were not interested in overseas sites such as Expedia and Travelocity, Mr Steyn said. Expedia.com was among the top 40 in December 2000 and November last year, but interest trailed off the following month. Travelocity.com performed little better, but at least ranked No 42 in December, he said. While the Wing On and Hong Thai sites did not allow online booking and transactions, the frequent listing of low or discount fares on the top three sites were the main draw for Hong Kong Internet users. Mr Steyn predicted Asian shoppers would be more keen to book online once local sites began to offer steep discounts and ease of use similar to that offered by Expedia and Travelocity. Hong Kong users were more interested in buying cheap tickets than in the Web's convenience. This could change with the arrival of Hutchison's Priceline.com with its emphasis on low-priced tickets.