Sify enters online travel space with Globe Travels' acquisition

MUMBAI: Sify Limited has acquired Globe Travels, an online issuer of e-tickets in the India-US travel space. This acquisition marks Sify's entry into the fast growing online travel business, particularly e-ticketing, the category with highest revenues and fastest growth in online ecommerce today.

In a country with low PC penetration, Sify is particularly well-placed with 3300 iWay cyber cafes across 153 cities from which more than a million people accessed the internet in the last quarter.

Each of these iWay cyber cafes can operate as an e-store from where existing and new customers can make online travel arrangements or purchase e-tickets. The company's acquisition of Globe Travels will be leveraged to provide value for Sify's users, while adding additional revenue streams for the company.

Sify Ltd CEO R Ramaraj said, "This strategic acquisition brings into our fold fast growing services that enhance our online offerings to customers, and opens up new sources of revenue. We will also have the benefit of having Globe Travels CEO Herman Noronha, on board along with his team, who will add value with their domain expertise."

Noronha said, "We are delighted to be a part of the Sify online services network. We decided to partner with Sify, after much deliberation, given the company's vision, range of online services, extensive reach across India and its technological capabilities."

With over 20 years of travel industry experience in both India and the USA, Noronha founded Globe Travels in the US in 1993, and built a leading and profitable enterprise in the travel business focused on the US-India market.

Portals senior vice president Surya Mantha said, "The addition of a travel portal is in line with our strategy of providing end-to-end services to Sify users. We believe we are well positioned to emerge as leading player in the online travel space with the unmatched reach afforded by the 3300 iWay cyber cafes across 153 cities, 200,000 home broadband customers, and Sify's leading online properties including, and, the popular portal for global Indians."

The potential for the growth of travel and ticketing arrangements online in India cannot be underscored. India, today is considered to be one of the fastest growing airline markets in the world in terms of new airlines and the number of aircraft on order.

According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the number of Indian internet users is slated to grow from the current 38.5 million to over 100 million by 2007-08. As internet users grow, the number of people making travel arrangements online is expected to increase substantially in future. IAMAI has projected a total of $ 262 million in online transactions for 2005-06, of which 57.85 per cent or $152 million is expected in the travel and travel related sectors. Airline ticket sales online are expected to account for $ 88 million, railway ticket sales will follow with $ 63 million. The growth of online sales of air tickets has been given a further impetus by the IATA deadline of 7 December for 100 per cent online ticketing in India, with the airlines promoting online tickets with special fares and benefits, as well as alliances.

Online travel arrangements for global Indians returning to India can also be leveraged on, particularly in the US-India sector. This segment is growing at 40 per cent year on year, with the opportunity to provide other value added services around a visit to India

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