Beijing (China) – In China, where a “zero-Covid” policy has resulted in ongoing lockdowns, Airbnb is shutting down its domestic rentals. By the summer, the company’s website will be void of all listings for country homes and experiences.
Over the last few years, Chinese stays accounted for only 1% of Airbnb’s earnings. Instead, the company is expected to focus on Chinese citizens travelling to other countries.
Airbnb’s start in China
Before the pandemic, Chinese travellers heading abroad had tripled in less than a decade, reaching 155 million journeys in 2019, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
But since 2020, China has had some of the toughest Covid restrictions in the world, making travel into and around the country extremely difficult.
Airbnb set up its business in China in 2016. Since then, some 25 million guests have booked stays there through the online home rental company.
However, a source familiar with the company’s decision stated that even before the epidemic, the domestic rental operation for visitors to China was hard and expensive to run.
For example, guest’s details were sent to the Chinese government in line with local laws and regulations, and the company has faced strong competition from native Chinese home-rental platforms.
In 2017, as part of its bid to expand, it renamed the Chinese operation Aibiying (爱彼迎) – meaning to welcome each other with love – which is easier to pronounce for Mandarin speakers.