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TUI Expands its Internet Offerings

Europe's largest tour operator, the German firm TUI, is expanding its online presence with the founding of the first solely German Internet-based travel agency. "Touropa" should be in business by the beginning of next year, the company said on Friday in Hannover. The launch of the site marks a departure for TUI, which became market leader by selling its catalogue-listed package holidays through travel agents. Customers will soon be able to book the same packages online at prices that will be updated daily. Conventional travel agencies will also be able to book clients on TUI packages via the Touropa Web site. TUI's online offensive comes as other Internet travel companies such as Expedia, plan to expand their package holiday offerings. As the parent company, TUI holds a 40 percent stake in Touropa. The other 60 percent is held by TUI's partner in the development of Touropa, Georg Eisenreich, the former chief executive of tour operator FTI.