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Slap on the sunscreen and log on - Net holiday bookings look set to be one of the fastest growing areas of the bubble economy this year.

Holidaymakers worldwide will buy $19.5 billion worth of getaways in the fourth quarter 2000 - that's up 85 per cent on last year, according to a report by the Gartner Group.

The US will still account for more than half this figure, with a forecasted 70 per cent growth giving it a $10.7 billion market. Europe and Asia Pacific can expect a bigger boom, with the number of e-tourists jumping 96 per cent and 91 per cent respectively. This will give Europe $5.4 billion in sales, or 28 per cent of the market, and Asia Pacific $1.6 billion, or 8.2 per cent.

Japan is set to show the fastest growth - its market is expected to leap 185 per cent to $1.3 billion.

"Explosive Internet access growth over the last two years, particularly in regions beyond North America, means that many Internet users are now familiar enough with the medium to make online purchases," said Astrid Van Dorst, Gartner e-Business Services senior analyst.

So the sales figures are promised - now all holiday e-shops have to do is figure out how to make a profit. ®

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