Pandaily has learned from sources that Airbnb is going to stop its operations in mainland China on July 30 and will lay off about 60 local employees. Airbnb’s co-founder and chairman of Airbnb China Nathan Blecharczyk announced the change at an internal meeting on Tuesday morning.
The home-sharing and travel services platform will inform its Chinese property hosts about the decision from as early as 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday. All hosts and Airbnb Adventurers – participants in a travel experiences venture run by the firm – in mainland China will be exempt from service fees until July 29.
In addition, the company will retain 150 staff members for a new China outbound office in Beijing, focusing on Chinese tourists travelling abroad. Approximately 120 employees will be reassigned to Airbnb’s global and regional positions, while about 60 will face layoffs.
According to sources cited by CNBC, inbound tourism in China has been “costly and complex to operate” for Airbnb, and the pandemic has worsened the situation. For the past few years, business from the Chinese domestic market has only contributed about 1% to the company’s total revenue.
“As borders reopen in Asia, and eventually in China, we believe that now is going to be the right time to strengthen our focus over the region and the important travel corridors,” said Nathan Blecharczyk.
China’s domestic tourism industry has been one of the biggest victims of the pandemic. In 2021, domestic tourism revenue and tourist numbers were only 50% of 2019 levels. Recent COVID-19 outbreaks across the country, combined with the government’s stringent pandemic control policies, have further halted the recovery of China’s domestic tourism businesses.
On Monday afternoon, Chinese National Immigration Administration reiterated that individuals are not encouraged to travel abroad, and that outbound tour groups will remain suspended.