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Airbnb ends rentals in China to focus on outbound tourists

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BEIJING (AP) — Airbnb Inc. will stop listing homes and experiences inside China this summer and instead focus its business in the country on serving Chinese tourists looking for lodgings abroad, a company official said on social media Tuesday.

Airbnb began listings in China in 2016, but they have still accounted for only about 1% of company revenue in recent years.

The San Francisco-based company found the domestic Chinese business costly and complicated to run, and the pandemic has made matters worse.

There was little overlap between Airbnb’s business inside China and catering to outbound travelers, which Airbnb hopes will limit the impact of suspending the domestic offerings.

Airbnb joins a series of foreign internet companies including Yahoo Inc. and eBay Inc. that pulled out of China after running into fierce local competition and regulatory barriers.

“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,” said the chief strategy officer of Airbnb China, Nathan Blecharczyk, in a statement on its social media account.

Landlords represented by Airbnb have had more than 25 million guest arrivals since 2016, according to Blecharczyk’s statement.

The Chinese government has blocked foreign tourists from visiting since the pandemic hit in early 2020 and has told the Chinese public to avoid foreign travel that isn’t essential for business or study.

International airlines and other travel companies that operate in China expect that borders will re-open and travel by Chinese citizens will pick up eventually, although the timing is unclear.

The Associated Press

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