United News folds uTravel Web venture

Holiday web-site uTravel.co.uk has become the latest Internet turkey, with owner United News & Media deciding to shut the site because of cut-throat competition in the online travel market.

Xilerate, United News & Media’s new media division, says that further investment in the business could not be expected to achieve the required return in the future.

The site, which was launched in August 1999, was intended to provide leisure travellers with comprehensive information on holidays and destinations, directing them to their travel agent to make bookings.

The Xilerate site was hit by competition from other Internet sites such as Lastminute, and Travelocity.

A spokesman says the company is hoping to find alternative jobs for for uTravel’s 18 staff members.

Xilerate runs 50 different websites, including Megastar, a lad site linked to the Daily Star, Dotmusic and B2B sites such as Farmgate.

The announcement of the demise of uTravel made little impact on the share price of United News & Media, which stood 2p down at 813p at the time of going to press.

United News & Media is seeking to change its name to United Business Media to reflect its new focus on business publishing and exhibitions, after it sold the bulk of its TV assets to Granada Media.

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