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Yahoo ups travel offerings

The search directory teams up with Travelocity to fill out its travel section in an effort to tap further into the potentially lucrative online travel market.

Yahoo is expanding its online travel offerings, joining a crowded but potentially lucrative market.

The Internet directory said today it had signed on the Sabre Group's Travelocity booking engine for air travel, car rentals, and hotel accommodations. Sabre is partly owned by the parent of American Airlines.

Yahoo previously had used Travelogix as the booking engine for its service, but that deal expired, according to Susan Briggs, senior producer at Yahoo. (See related story)

The revamped travel area includes information about more than 400 travel destinations, as well as current weather conditions, currency exchange rates, and airfare announcements. Yahoo also has teamed up with Lonely Planet and Travelon to beef up its content.

Competition is stiff in the online travel market, not only from airlines, but also from Microsoft's Expedia and Preview Travel, among others. But the business is potentially lucrative. Expedia is among Microsoft's most successful new-media ventures, while Preview is trying to capitalize on the growth by filing for an initial public offering.

Last week, Microsoft upgraded its Expedia travel site by adding online mapping and vacation packages. It also said the site would adopt the name Microsoft Expedia.com, attempting to make it easier for customers to find the site.

Yahoo's edge could lie in the huge number of visitors it attracts to its free Web site, as well as its brand identity on the Net.