Hotels

Airbnb leaves China amid ongoing lockdowns

Airbnb has decided to shut down its business in China as the country shows no sign of ending its pandemic lockdowns.

News.com.au reported that Airbnb will no longer book rental homes or visitor “experiences” in China, looking toward helping those with plans to travel outside the country.

The home-rental service will maintain a presence in China with an office in Beijing as the company expects outbound travel to improve when restrictions loosen, Bloomberg reported.

All listings for homes and experiences in China are to be removed from the company’s website by 30 July.

Airbnb launched its business in China six years ago and over the course of its time in China the pandemic has made operations difficult.

Bookings in China account for only 1 per cent of Airbnb’s business, the company reported.

“China is primarily an outbound business,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said on the company’s first-quarter earnings call earlier this month.

“People go to China but primarily they travel to China and they go to other communities, especially around Asia.”

Chesky said at an event in New York recently that he expects business in the Asia region to recover in 2023.

China’s strict zero-COVID approach to containing the virus has prompted criticism from businesses and fuelled public frustrations. It has put Beijing’s target of 5.5 per cent annual growth out of reach.

In the early days of the pandemic, Airbnb suspended check-ins to its listings in Beijing to comply with local regulations.

The company said in a regulatory filing in February that the company would continue to incur “significant expenses” to operate in China and would not be profitable in China.

“These factors, combined with sentiment of the workforce in China, and China’s policy towards foreign direct investment may particularly impact our operations in China,” according to the report.

Airbnb incurred other problems when operating in China, including being forced to respond to requests from the government to share information about users of the platform.

The company also said “any prolonged deterioration in US-China bilateral relations or escalation of geo-political risk in China could adversely affect” its business.


Featured Image: Empty streets in Shanghai | Facebook/MayVloggers

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