Airbnb to withdraw from China in matter of weeks due to ongoing Covid lockdowns

·2-min read
The move would lead to the removal of around 150,000 listings from Airbnb  (AFP via Getty)
The move would lead to the removal of around 150,000 listings from Airbnb (AFP via Getty)

Airbnb Inc announced its exit from the Chinese market on Tuesday, stating that it will remove all short-term domestic rental services in the Asian country, becoming the latest western internet giant to leave Beijing amid strict lockdown policies.

“We have made the difficult decision to refocus our efforts in China on outbound travel and suspend our homes and Experiences of Hosts in China, starting from 30 July 2022,” Nathan Blecharczyk, chief strategy officer of Airbnb China, said on social media platform WeChat.

The statement, addressed to the Chinese demographic, did not mention the reasons behind the decision.

Since 2016, when Airbnb set up its business in China, around 25 million people have booked stays through the company. But Airbnb’s revenue from stays in China was only about 1 per cent over the last few years.

The company will now rework its business strategy to assist outbound Chinese tourists eyeing properties and lodging abroad, and remove all listings for homes and experiences in China from the company’s website by summer, reported BBC News.

The move will lead to the removal of around 150,000 listings out of a total of six million across the world.

A source aware of the development said that the San Francisco-based firm had to shut down due to the costly and complex ecosystem in China, which was further impacted by the pandemic.

Enforcing some of the harshest pandemic protocols, China has “zero-Covid” lockdowns, impacting business and services in the travel sector.

In recent years there has been a steady increase in the number of Chinese people travelling abroad. By 2019, the number had tripled in a decade to 155 million journeys, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

However, due to the pandemic, the Xi Jinping administration rolled out strict travel guidelines which blocked tourists from entering or leaving the country in 2020. The government has advised its citizens not to travel abroad unless essential for business or education.

Valued at $113bn (£90bn), the vacation and lodging giant has joined a list of other companies like Yahoo Inc, LinkedIn and eBay Inc that have recently left the Chinese market.