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An older generation of travellers will be booking their holidays online over the next few years, with baby boomers (aged 45 to 60) driving the market.

A new study by market research firm eMarketer reveals that the United States is the current leader in online travel expenditure, with leisure and non-corporate travel consumers expected to spend $122.4 billion a year by 2009.

Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the report, noted that today’s baby boomers are increasingly affluent, in good health, internet literate and adventurous.

He advised online travel distributors and marketers to ensure they are designing travel offers to match the needs and interests of older travellers.

US non-business travellers spend around $64.9 billion online in 2005, while European travellers forked out a total of $35.5 billion on the internet last year. European markets such as the UK, France and Germany are all close to reaching maturity, while markets in southern and eastern Europe are still witnessing strong growth.

The report Online Travel Worldwide: A Mosaic of Separate Markets, suggests that the four fastest-growing travel markets by 2010 will be China, South Korea, India and Japan, with China experiencing travel spending growth of 18.3 per cent.