Airbnb Inc, the vacation rental provider, has announced that it will cease all listings and experiences in mainland China as of July 30, joining a long list of Western internet platforms that have abandoned the Chinese market.
The news was published on the company’s official WeChat account without any explanation for the decision. Chinese customers will still be able to book listings and experiences in other countries, according to the San Francisco-based business.
“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 July 30, 2022,” Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk wrote.
According to the Global Times newspaper, Airbnb decided to close its domestic operation because it was too expensive and hard to run, which was compounded by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The company joins a lengthy list of Western online giants that have pulled out of China in recent months, including Linkedin and Yahoo, in an indication of the world’s second-largest economy’s internet decoupling from most of the rest of the globe.
Almost all major Western internet platforms, including Alphabet Inc’s Google and Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook, have stopped providing services to mainland Chinese customers, claiming censorship and operating issues as reasons.
China’s measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 have caused business disruptions across the country, with some cities, including Shanghai, being shut down.
Airbnb’s decision was first reported by CNBC on Tuesday.
According to the New York Times, Airbnb will remove around 150,000 listings in China, out of a total of six million worldwide. According to the sources, China has accounted for about 1% of Airbnb’s business in recent years.
Airbnb, which was founded in 2008, began offering services in mainland China in 2015. It had tried to localise its services, including integrating with Chinese platforms like Tencent Holdings’ WeChat. Tujia, Xiaozhu, and Meituan are its main Chinese competitors.
Meituan Minsu, Meituan’s vacation rental business, announced on Tuesday that it has developed a special team to assist existing Airbnb hosts in listing their properties on its platform. Tujia had already made a similar announcement.
Airbnb’s stock rose 0.7 per cent in Nasdaq trade on Monday, but has since fallen 1.6 per cent in after-hours trading.
(Adapted from News18.com)