Airbnb will shut down all China-based services, including rental lists and experience, from July 30, the company announced Tuesday. In a letter to its customers in China, the vacation rental company said it had predicted that more Chinese tourists would travel abroad as the coronavirus epidemic gradually subsided around the world.
The news of the withdrawal was first reported by CNBC, when China tried to curb the outbreak in its largest cities while maintaining strict control of its borders under a “zero covid” policy. For more than two years, Beijing has adhered to a strict quarantine system – usually a three-week period with government-mandated facilities – which makes internal travel difficult even for Chinese citizens. Occasional outbreaks within the country have weakened the domestic tourism industry as regional authorities have imposed ever-changing public health regulations.
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Since Airbnb’s debut in China six years ago, the platform has attracted more than 25 million guest arrivals, the company’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, Nathan Bleacherzik, said in a letter to Airbnb hosts posted on the company’s WeChat account. But according to CNBC, travel to China accounted for only 1 percent of Airbnb’s revenue in the past few years. The company will still handle overseas bookings for Chinese users.
Airbnb faced stiff competition from Chinese alternatives and failed to capture a significant share of the rental market. One of these competitors, Tujia, has offered to take the Airbnb listing on its platform, according to a Chinese media outlet.
The suspension of China-based bookings has made Airbnb the latest Western technology company to exit the country in recent years.
In October, Microsoft shut down its LinkedIn service inside China in the face of public criticism for censoring the posts of several US journalists. At the time, LinkedIn said the country had exited “due to a significantly more challenging operating environment and the need for greater compliance.”
Jean Whelan contributed to this report.