Airbnb announced Tuesday that it will discontinue domestic operations in China and instead focus on serving Chinese users traveling abroad amid the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns in China.
The San Francisco-based company said in a letter posted to its social media account that it will remove all Chinese listings and experiences from its platform on July 30.
Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk said that the company has opted to refocus its efforts in China on outbound travel, enabling Chinese users to book listings and experiences abroad.
“The decision was not easy for us and I know that it is even more difficult for you,” Blecharczyk said. “We’ve built and grown a thriving host community in China together and have welcomed more than 25 million guest arrivals since 2016.”
Airbnb intends to maintain its office and employees in Beijing, according to CNBC, which first reported the news, citing an unnamed source.
The online home rental platform first launched operations in China in 2016. According to reports, stays in China on the platform have accounted for 1 percent of its revenue in recent years.
China has maintained its “zero COVID-19” strategy of mass testing, mass lockdowns, and strict border controls to contain the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, within its local community.
The restrictions have led to several foreign companies retreating from China to avoid disruptions.
Airbnb joins a series of Western Internet firms, including LinkedIn and Yahoo, that have withdrawn businesses from China, indicating a decoupling between the world’s second-largest economy and much of the rest of the world.
Almost all major Western Internet platforms, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook, have ceased to provide services to end-users in mainland China, citing reasons ranging from censorship to operation difficulties in the country.
Reuters contributed to this report.