Airbnb to suspend domestic bookings this summer
Airbnb will suspend bookings on the Chinese mainland beginning in July, because the segment is complicated and expensive to manage due to COVID-19 pandemic challenges, the company said on Tuesday.
"The domestic segment is costly and complex to operate. COVID-19 worsened these issues and heightened their impact," Airbnb, the world's top shared-accommodation service provider, said in a statement released today.
Consequently, Airbnb will pivot its efforts in China to focus on outbound travel.
The company formally launched its Chinese mainland business in 2016 and has invested in expanding domestic offerings with 25 million bookings in the past six years.
Since the pandemic broke out in 2020, Airbnb has taken contactless measures like "Entire Home" (booking houses instead of rooms) and "Self Check-In" filters on its site.
Bookings in China have accounted for only 1 percent of the company's global revenue over the past few years, according to the statement.
China has enacted strict anti-pandemic measures, putting pressure on homeowners willing to share rooms with travelers.
During the pandemic, tourism habits have changed in China as people are more interested in taking short-distance trips and going camping, according to industry officials from Trip.com and Tujia.
Camping reservations for the June Dragon Boat Holiday have become very popular in cities such as Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Chengdu, according to Trip.com, China's biggest online tourism platform.
Airbnb still considers China "a significant source" of travelers and income and "a valuable driver" of the company's global network effect. It expects outbound tourism from China to rebound as borders reopen and COVID-19 subsides.