China: Airbnb is suspending check-ins in the Chinese capital of Beijing until at least March due to concerns over the coronavirus threat.
UPDATE: Reuters reports that these delays have been extended until May.
This, according to the company, is to comply with city regulations responding to the disease.
Airbnb is offering refunds to any and all affected parties, or to those who cancel bookings in the region. Currently, company spokespeople confirm that Beijing alone faces restrictions.
The company said in a statement last week: “Airbnb appreciates that disease control efforts are causing overall travel disruptions that also affect our community. We will refund and support guests who have cancelled reservations.”
Chinese competitors have also halted bookings in the region, with Xiaozhu taking similar measures. Homestay company Tujia told the South China Morning Post that suspension guidelines have affected most of its city listings and may have an impact on consumer trust.
Many online booking giants have been attempting to remedy this situation by providing special funds for operators. Airbnb China has offered a $1 million fund to help respond to the crisis, while travel group Ctrip are offering ¥10 billion in small loans to affected operators and service providers.
Coronavirus has significantly disrupted the Chinese travel industry thus far. Worldwide hotel groups, such as Marriott, IHG and Hilton, have offered free cancellations through the month of February, and popular tourist destinations, such as Macau and Disneyland Shanghai have all seen significant decreases in attendance.
Airbnb is, however, continuing to operate in more heavily afflicted areas, most notably in the city of Wuhan, where the virus originated.
Though China is enacting quarantine measures in Hubei province, the coronavirus continues to spread. Four patients were diagnosed this morning in the UK, all of whom were known contacts of a prior confirmed case.
Xiaozhu spokesman Huang Wei said to the South China Morning Post: “The tourism industry is relatively vulnerable in terms of standing up to risks, and even more so for small businesses like homestay. If the virus can be stabilised, the industry will likely see a huge rebound and a return of market faith.”