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Japan And Its Aging Population Eyed By Airbnb To Expand Into China

Japan And Its Aging Population Eyed By Airbnb To Expand Into China
With the ultimate aim of and as part of its push for expanding its relatively small penetration among Chinese travelers, Airbnb is aiming to boost its presence in Japan, director of the host and homes business at the home-sharing service, Parin Mehta, said in a TV interview recently.
"There are a couple of big opportunities that I see in China. One is the domestic play which is very big and a lot of people are playing in that space," Mehta told the media at the sidelines of the Innovfest Unbound conference in Singapore.
"But I think the outbound opportunity is very exciting as well," he added. "We know that there are about 120 million to 140 million Chinese who will leave China to travel overseas. We know that one in three trips in APAC (Asia Pacific) on Airbnb ends up in Japan."
At present, with only 80,000 listings out of more than 3 million worldwide, China accounts for just a tiny slice of the company's business today. And with more than 400,000 listings, Tujia, the leading Chinese home-sharing site, is way ahead in the country, in contrast.
As a part of its efforts to reach a wider audience in China, "Aibiying," which translates as "welcome each other with love", is the new name that Airbnb adopted for itself for mainland China in its rebranding exercise.
In recent years, enormous wanderlust has been shown by the Chinese.
According to official China Tourism Academy data, with spending of around $109.8 billion, around 122 million Chinese had travelled outside their home country in 2016. Up 27.6 percent, around 6.37 million Chinese visited Japan in 2016, data from that country showed.
For a home-sharing service, that can be a juicy market.
"For us the real challenge and opportunity is to figure out what do these Chinese guests wan when they go overseas and how to provide that for them," Mehta said.
Mehta was eyeing hosts in Japan at the same time.
"[There are} a lot of government plans around rural regeneration and how to get an aging population to be economically active and hosting really solves both those problems," he said.
"We want to enable this platform whereby hosts can continue to be economically active and monetize their biggest asset, which is often their home, and they can use this for their education, food, etc."
He hoped Airbnb could help grow Japan's tourism market, Mehta also noted.
"If people are going to Tokyo, they might traditionally just go to Shinjuku or Shibuya, but they could for instance, move out of Tokyo and go to places an hour away and really experience what it's like to like in a city," he said. "We want to help governments diversify some of their tourist base."

Christopher J. Mitchell

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