TOURISM

Airbnb targets US$130 billion Chinese outbound tourism market through major China partnership

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2015, 12:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2015, 12:46pm

Airbnb has entered into a partnership with two investment firms – Sequoia Capital and China Broadband Capital – in a bid to expand its presence in the mainland Chinese market.

Valued at around US$24 billion, Airbnb, which allows users to list, find and book lodgings around the world, recently raised US$1.5 billion in a funding round that included CBC, hinting at future China expansion.

In a blog post announcing the partnership, Airbnb said it would work to “understand the needs and desires of Chinese travellers going overseas and partner with Chinese companies to create a truly localised platform.”

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According to the World Tourism Organisation, Chinese travellers took 109 million outbound trips in 2014 and have been the top travel spenders globally since 2012, with total expenditure of over US$129 billion in 2013.

Over the past 12 months, outbound travel by Chinese users through Airbnb has grown 700 per cent, making it the fastest outbound market for the US-based start-up.

“With nearly 1.5 billion people living in China, it’s clear that this country is an important part of our global community,” said the firm.

The firm is also working with a larger circle of investors to cultivate its presence in China, including Horizon Ventures, GGV Capital and Beijing-based Hill House Capital.

Airbnb is a leading company in the so-called "sharing economy", in which users employ peer-to-peer platforms to optimise resource allocation and has been described as essential to the development of the digital economy and the modernisation of economic structures.

Other major players in the sharing economy including car-hailing apps Uber and Didi Kuaidi, and crowdfunding projects such as Kickstarter.

However, in mainland China, there have been complaints that regulators have not kept up with the developing sector, causing major problems.

Airbnb will face stiff competition as it expands into China, with domestic rival Tujia.com one of several similar firms to land hundreds of millions of dollars in investment.

Tuniu.com, a leading Chinese travel site, also recently raised US$800 million in funding and is seeking to expand following a partnership with e-commerce giant JD.com.