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Airbnb Inc. announced Tuesday it will stop representing short-term rental properties in China and focus its business in the country on serving Chinese tourists looking for lodgings abroad.

The company made the announcement in a letter posted to its official WeChat account addressed to its Chinese users without elaborating on the reasons behind the decision. The San Francisco-based company said Chinese users would still be allowed to book listings and experiences abroad.

Airbnb joins a series of foreign internet companies including Yahoo Inc. and eBay Inc. that pulled out of China after running into fierce local competition and regulatory barriers.

“We have made the difficult decision to refocus our efforts in China on outbound travel and suspend our homes and Experiences of Hosts in China, starting from July 30, 2022," said the chief strategy officer of Airbnb China, Nathan Blecharczyk, in a statement on its social media account.

Landlords represented by Airbnb have had more than 25 million guest arrivals since 2016, according to Blecharczyk’s statement.

The Chinese government has blocked foreign tourists from visiting since the pandemic hit in early 2020 and has told the Chinese public to avoid foreign travel that isn’t essential for business or study.

Vacation rental firm Airbnb Inc said on Tuesday it will shut down all listings and experiences in mainland China from July 30, joining a long list of Western internet platforms that have opted out of the China market.

The Global Times newspaper, citing a source close to the company, said Airbnb had decided to shut the domestic business down because it was too costly and complex to operate, which had been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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.

China's efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 has also led to business disruptions across the country as several cities have been locked down, including the major economic hub of Shanghai.

The New York Times reported that as part of its retreat, Airbnb would remove about 150,000 listings in China, out of six million it had around the world. Stays in China have accounted for roughly 1% of Airbnb’s business in recent years, according to the reports.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb started providing services in mainland China in 2015. It had made efforts to localise its services, including integrating with Chinese platforms such as Tencent Holdings’ WeChat. Its main Chinese rivals are Tujia and Xiaozhu.

Airbnb’s shares gained 0.65% during Monday trading on Nasdaq but have receded 1.59% in post-market trading.

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