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The sites that changed our world

Sean Dodson maps out the net’s most innovative and best loved travel websites

Earlier this summer, the package tour veteran Thomson announced that internet bookings had exceeded those taken in their high street stores. In just 10 years, the internet has come from nowhere to dominate the UK travel market. But how did this happen?

Consider how far we have travelled by remembering how we used to book. Just 10 years ago, if you were particularly tech savvy, you booked your holidays through the cutting-edge technology of Teletext. But, in 1996, most of us chose to traipse down to town, find a travel agent that was open, queue up and then sit across a desk and watch a “holiday consultant” operate a huge computer terminal while you flick through glossy brochures featuring bright images airbrushed free of the unsightly building site that you half expected to be deposited next to.

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On location: The isle of Jura

David Cameron has waxed lyrical about Jura. But even this master of self-publicity couldn’t match the stunt pulled by KLF, who burnt £1m in cash on the isle

Until recently, two things brought visitors to the sparsely occupied Isle of Jura in Scotland’s Western Isles. First there’s the whisky. The island’s only road leads straight from the ferry to the distillery where 1.4 million litres of pure alcohol is produced annually and which attracts 5,000 people each year. Next, there’s the scenery and wildlife – the 30-mile-long and seven-mile-wide island is home to 6,500 deer. Its surrounding sea is full of seals, dolphins and porpoises.

Then a couple of months ago, David Cameron sang the island’s praises on Desert Island Discs. As yet it’s too early to observe any Cameron effect, though perhaps next year Notting Hill new Tories will outnumber the otters playing along its lovely shoreline.

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