US room sharing giant Airbnb is now eyeing China as its largest market globally by 2020, according to Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of the platform.
During his first public media briefing with Chinese media after becoming Airbnb's China head in October, Blecharczyk said the number of Chinese outbound travellers are growing rapidly. So far, a total of 8.6 million travellers from China have used Airbnb services in foreign destinations, and half of Airbnb users in Asia are Chinese, according to a Sina news report published on Saturday.
Domestic travel is also buoyant in China, pushing the number of rooms available for rent on Airbnb in China to 150,000, double that of last year.
Shanghai is the most popular tourism destination in China, which owns 20,000 listings and has hosted 600,000 Airbnb users, said Blecharczyk.
Blecharczyk also said Airbnb is going to set up a domestic customer service centre in China, which will assist Chinese users through a variety of channels including telephone, WeChat, and Weibo.
The company has already set up three offices in China, in Shanghai, Sichuan province, and Guangdong province -- all the top-tier tourism destinations in the country, according to the Sina news report.
Blecharczyk took over Airbnb's China business after the previous China head Ge Hong resigned from the post in October, only four months after taking the role.
The US startup is facing fierce competition in China as some local brands have already established similar platforms in the country with even more localized services. It is also facing regulatory challenges in China as local police in major countries will require visitors to register even for temporary stays.
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