After a series of Covid-induced lockdowns in the country, home rental service Airbnb is ceasing its services in China. This comes after homestays in China have made up just one percent of Airbnb’s revenue in recent years, according to a report in BBC. The report also added that all listings for homes and experiences in the country will be removed from the company’s website by the summer.
The San Francisco-based company first launched its business in China six years ago and has booked home stays in the country for nearly 25 million guests. Before the pandemic, the number of Chinese travelers going abroad had tripled in less than a decade. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the numbers reached 155 million trips in 2019. However, as of 2020, China has some of the strictest COVID restrictions in the world, making travel to and around the country extremely difficult.
It became more pronounced this year as mainland China dealt with its worst Covid-19 outbreak in two years. Earlier in March, for more than three weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases with symptoms in mainland China exceeded 1,000 per day, hitting regions across the country. The number of asymptomatic cases was much higher, CNBC reported.
Airbnb renamed its Chinese operation Aibiying in 2017, which was easier to pronounce for Mandarin speakers. It was also an attempt to expand services.
However, it’s not just the recent decline in tourism that has prompted Airbnb to discontinue its services in China. BBC reports that the domestic rental operation for travelers visiting China was complicated and expensive even before the pandemic. The report added that guest data was sent to the Chinese government in accordance with local laws and regulations, and the company faces strong competition from native Chinese home rental platforms.
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