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Wall St. Journal enters travel game

The Wall Street Journal's Web edition is getting into the online travel business with a new section that includes services from TheTrip.com.

The Wall Street Journal's Web edition is getting into the online travel business with a new section that includes reservations services from TheTrip.com.

Business Fare, which opened yesterday, features columns, reviews of travel sites, daily news briefs, and discussion areas.

Business Fare also includes coverage from the Dow Jones Travel Index and Dow Jones Newswires, as well as articles from the online, Asian, and European editions of Wall Street Journal.

TheTrip.com is providing services such as city guides, a currency converter, maps, a flight tracker, and plane, hotel, and car rental reservations.

Analysts have noted that online travel represents one of the largest consumer e-commerce markets. A Commerce Department study earlier this year projected that online travel bookings could rise to $8 billion in three years from $1 billion in 1997.

Newspaper sites have tried fee-based offerings to augment advertising revenues. The New York Times, for example, has an e-commerce arrangement with bookseller Barnes & Noble, sells its archives online, and offers a fee-based online gaming service.

The Journal has been unique in its success as a subscription-based online edition of a newspaper. Although most papers are free on the Web, the Journal has succeeded in collecting its $49 yearly subscription fee ($29 for print subscribers); this month, the paper announced its online edition reached 250,000 subscribers.

The New York Times has not had the same luck. In July it lifted the subscription fee it was charging users overseas.

The Journal is far from alone in tapping into the active and lucrative online travel market. In April, for instance, the online home of the Weather Channel inked a deal with TheTrip.com rival Biztravel to provide car, hotel, and airline reservation services on its weather site. Financial news site CNNfn also offers travel reservation services powered by Biztravel.

And TheTrip.com provides its service to the Business Week Web site, among others.

"Interactive Journal readers tell us they travel extensively for business and appreciate our insightful coverage of travel news and trends," Neil Budde, vice president and editor of the the Wall Street Journal's Interactive Edition, said in a statement. "With Business Fare we expand that coverage and combine it with useful features focused on helping our highly mobile subscribers make the most of their time online and in transit."