Online travel portal Cleartrip plans US listing next year [Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)]Naushad K. Cherrayil Staff ReporterAl Bawaba Ltd.
Dubai: Middle East's leading online travel portal Cleartrip plans to go public next year, said a top official.
"We are actively looking at going public simply because there is an appetite for high-growth companies. There haven't been many IPO stories out of the Middle East. Different markets have pros and cons, but we look at US as a benchmark for technology companies and it makes sense for us as we are an internet company," Jae Hyung Kim, president of Cleartrip, said in an interview with Gulf News.
"Our structure allows us to go public any time, the only thing is the timing and shareholders' approval. Next year is under consideration," he said.
He said the Middle East travel industry is worth $60 billion this year based on gross bookings, while the global travel market size is estimated to be approximately $1 trillion based on gross bookings. Out of which online sales will contribute $10 billion. Online sales, currently at 15 per cent, will increase to exceed 22 per cent by 2014.
According to the report released by the World Travel and Tourism Council, the UAE accounts for 41 per cent of total investment in the travel and tourism sector in the Middle East. The report also predicted that the volume of investments in the tourism sector in the UAE will grow by seven per cent annually.
Marie de Ducla, Industry Head Travel - Gulf, Google, said: "In terms of technology adoption, customers in the Middle East are recognised as being sophisticated and technology savvy, which is evident in the high mobile and internet penetration rates. Hence, travel and tourism companies must prioritise their online marketing tools to advance their businesses and retain new customers."
She said internet is number one inspiration for travellers and those who booked visited 26 sites for more than four hours. Mobile search is also rising fast. Mobile travel searches registered a 1,200 per cent increase
Even though air fares have gone up, lot of low-cost carriers are "filling the void now and people are looking at point-to-point travel at lower cost. We have 92 low-cost carriers on our platform today in addition to close to 250 legacy carriers. We have 70,000 hotels on our platform of which 8,000 directly contracted. We expect to increase to over 250,000 total hotels in the next couple of months," Jae said.
Cleartrip has grown close to 150 per cent year on year in the Gulf. The portal launched its operations in the Gulf in November 2011 with an office in Dubai.
He said currently we offer hotel and flight bookings and is looking to form alliances with tour operators to offer holiday packages.
Close to 90 per cent of its revenue comes from airline ticketing.
"We are looking at Saudi Arabia as part of expansion and launch an Arabic site in January. We are looking at opportunities in Africa in the near future. Our intention is to make travelling as simple as possible without going to 10 different sites," Jae said.