Airbnb to quit China as lockdowns restrict tourism

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Woman taking a selfie in ChinaImage source, Getty Images

Airbnb is shutting down its domestic rentals in China, where a “zero-Covid” policy has meant lockdowns are ongoing.

All listings for homes and experiences in the country will be removed from the company’s website by summer, a source familiar with the matter told the BBC.

Stays within China made up only 1% of Airbnb’s revenue over the last few years.

The company is expected to instead focus on Chinese residents travelling abroad to other destinations.

Before the pandemic, Chinese travellers heading abroad had tripled in less than a decade, reaching 155 million journeys in 2019, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

But since 2020, China has had some of the toughest Covid restrictions in the world, making travel into and around the country extremely difficult.

Airbnb set up its business in China in 2016. Since then, some 25 million guests have booked stays there through the online home rental company.

But a source familiar with the company’s decision said the domestic rental operation for travellers visiting China had been complicated and expensive to run even before the pandemic.

For example, guest’s details were sent to the Chinese government in line with local laws and regulations, and the company has faced strong competition from native Chinese home-rental platforms.

In 2017, as part of its bid to expand, it renamed the Chinese operation Aibiying (爱彼迎) – meaning to welcome each other with love – which is easier to pronounce for Mandarin speakers.

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