HONG KONG / SHANGHAI – Holiday rental company Airbnb Inc will close all listings and experiences in mainland China from July 30, it said on Tuesday, adding to a long list of Western Internet platforms that have exited the Chinese market.
The company made the announcement on its official WeChat account without elaborating on the reasons behind the decision. The San Francisco-based company said Chinese users would still be allowed to book lists and experiences abroad.
Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of Airbnb, writes: “We have made the difficult decision to re-focus our efforts on overseas travel to China, starting July 30, 2022, and to suspend our home and host experience in China.”
The Global Times magazine quoted a source close to the company as saying that Airbnb had decided to close its domestic business because it was too expensive and complicated to operate, which was further exacerbated by the COVID-19 epidemic.
Airbnb did not respond to a request for comment.
The company joins a long line of Western Internet companies, such as Linkedin and Yahoo, in recent months to retreat from China as a sign of Internet decoupling, the world’s second-largest economy, from other parts of the world.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook, including almost all major Western Internet platforms, have stopped serving end-users in mainland China, citing operational difficulties due to censorship.
China’s efforts to stem the spread of the Kovid-19 have also disrupted trade across the country, with several cities, including Shanghai’s main economic center, locked down.
CNBC first announced Airbnb’s decision on Tuesday.
The New York Times reports that Airbnb will remove about 150,000 listings in China, including six million worldwide. In recent years, about 1% of Airbnb’s business has been in China, the report said.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb began providing services in mainland China in 2015 It sought to localize its services, including integration with Chinese platforms such as Tencent Holdings’ WeChat. Its main Chinese rivals are Tujia, Xiaoju and Meituan.
Meituan vacation rental business Meituan Minsu said on Tuesday that it had formed a special team to help existing Airbnb hosts list on the platform. Tuzia had made a similar announcement the day before.
Shares of Airbnb rose 0.7% in Nasdaq trading on Monday but fell 1.6% in post-market trading. (Reporting by Josh Yeh in Hong Kong, Brenda Goh in Shanghai, and Ella Cao Lewis Heaven and David Goodman in Beijing)