On 24 May, Airbnb announced the restructuring of its operations in China.
Effective immediately, Airbnb ends its business of booking accommodation or tourist ‘experiences’ in China and will focus on making travel plans abroad for Chinese tourists in the future.
The headquarters of Airbnb, based in San Francisco, has refused to comment.
According to Agence France-Presse, Airbnb entered the Chinese market six years ago and has so far booked accommodation in the country for around 25 million visitors. Based on published data, short-term housing rental revenue in China has accounted for just 1% of Airbnb’s overall revenue in recent years.
Airbnb faced fierce competition in China, and the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak made it even more difficult and costly to maintain operations.
Although most of the world has chosen to live with the virus, China has persisted with its zero-tolerance strategy. Several cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing, have strict movement restrictions, for which there is a heavy economic cost.
Airbnb stated that it has decided to focus on the lucrative market of foreign travel because it believes that demand for international travel from Chinese tourists will increase as vaccination requirements are relaxed and borders are reopened.
The number of bookings for accommodation on the platform reached a record high in the first quarter of the year, according to Airbnb, indicating that travel demand, which had been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, has begun to recover.
In the first three months of the year, Airbnb had a new quarterly record of more than 102 million bookings for accommodation and tourist ‘experiences’, according to the financial results.
In a letter to shareholders, Airbnb wrote: “Customer bookings are higher than ever. Looking ahead, we can see strong and persistent pent-up demand.”
While the trend of booking accommodation away from the metropolitan area and relatively close to home continues, people are increasingly returning to metropolitan areas and travelling across borders.
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