Airbnb to close in China amid repeated Covid lockdowns | Airbnb

Airbnb is closing its operations in China indefinitely, as the country’s zero Covid policy, closures and travel restrictions continue.

On Tuesday, Airbnb announced to its China-based users that it would stop taking all reservations for accommodations and experiences in China from July 30. The ability to book for dates beyond July 29 was suspended Tuesday morning, according to screenshots of the Airbnb notice shared on Chinese social media. An attempt by the Guardian to make reservations from outside China after this date produced an error message.

According to a source familiar with the decision, who confirmed the closure, Airbnb’s domestic operations in China are suffering from pandemic-imposed restrictions in China, with no indication that authorities intend to move towards coexistence with the virus or to open its borders.

As a wave of Omicron cases spread across China, the government has doubled its policy to eliminate Covid-19. Big cities including Shanghai and Beijing have been subject to city-wide or localized lockdowns, and there are widespread travel restrictions between cities and provinces.

The hosting provider has been operating in China since 2016 with national listings across the country. During this period, around 25 million customers have made reservations, according to the company, but its operation is expensive and complex and faces strong local competition. Revenue from stays in China accounts for around 1% of global revenue, the source told the Guardian, and Covid-19 has compounded the problems and increased their impact.

The Chinese media, Pheonix news, announced that Airbnb would maintain an office with “hundreds” of employees in Beijing.

The company declined to comment further on the filing.

The news became a hot topic on Chinese social media platform Weibo on Tuesday, with many comments focusing on Airbnb’s low market share even before the pandemic.

Chinese residents face heavy restrictions on international travel, which has affected the global tourism industry. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of Chinese tourists traveling abroad nearly tripled to 155 million.

But as the rest of the world reopens, Airbnb says it hit a record number of bookings in the first quarter of this year, with more than 102 million accommodation and experience bookings. “Guests are booking more than ever before,” Airbnb told shareholders in a letter. “Looking forward, we are seeing sustained strong pent-up demand.”

The company said trends of people booking stays away from urban areas and staying relatively close to home continued, but customers were also returning to cities and taking cross-border trips.

Additional reporting by Xiaoqian Zhu

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