NATIONAL REPORT— Travelers are using the Internet at a greater rate than the rest of the public, according to recently released research by the Travel Industry Association of America.
This year about 64 million Americans are expected to have used the Internet to make travel arrangements, according to TIA. This is a huge leap from 1997 levels when only about 12 million Americans were planning and researching travel options online.

This year's online usage is about flat with that of 2001, however these travelers are doing much more of their trip planning online than they did before. In fact, 42% say that they now do all or most of their trip planning online, up from 29% who did so last year.

As a result of the Internet being used more and more for trip planning, other ways to plan trips, such as calls or visits to travel agents or travel companies themselves, have declined rather steeply, the TIA states.

While the number of Americans planning trips online has leveled off, online travel booking continues to experience strong growth. In 2002, over 39 million people actually booked travel using the Internet— up 25% over last year. The Internet is being used more frequently to make reservations, with 70% saying that they do at least half of their travel booking online, up from only 56% last year, the TIA said.

Airline tickets continued to be the most frequently purchased travel products online, reported by 77%t of all online travel bookers, followed by accommodations at 57% and rental cars at 37%. About 25% of online bookers buy tickets for cultural events. Nearly as many buy travel packages, 21%, up significantly from last year's 13%t share. Among online bookers, over 30% reported spending $2,500 or more in the past year on travel booked online.