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Airbnb files for initial public offering

Home-sharing startup Airbnb on Wednesday said it has confidentially filed with US regulators for an initial public offering.

The number of shares and price has yet to be determined, according to the San Francisco-based company.

The move comes as the travel industry suffers an economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic amid slowdowns in tourism.

Airbnb in June nonetheless said it had seen a “bounce” in bookings as the platform unveiled an initiative to promote short-range travel as pandemic restrictions ease.

The Airbnb logo

“The travel industry, including Airbnb has been hit hard by COVID-19 and there will continue to be tremendous uncertainty,” the company said in a blog post.

“But, our booking data shows that travel is beginning to bounce back.”

The home-sharing platform said it is riding a day-tripping trend by partnering with local organizations and tourist bodies around the world including the US National Park Foundation and the French Association of Rural Mayors.

“Tapping into the demand for nearby trips, we are updating our app and homepage to help guests rediscover the magic in their own backyards by making it easier to book local travel, including at the last-minute,” the company said.

An Airbnb property in Oracabessa, Jamaica

Airbnb said it is working with local authorities, charities and tourist agencies to entice potential visitors and stimulate economic activity.

Airbnb says “As travelers continue to seek a change of scenery—and the opportunities to visit destinations farther afield still very uncertain—there are still plenty of ways to feel immersed in their favorite international locales just a stone’s throw away from home on Airbnb.”

Earlier this year the company slashed one fourth of its workforce — some 1,900 people — as the coronavirus pandemic crushed the travel industry.

The cuts were needed for the company to survive until people start traveling again, Airbnb co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky said in a blog post at the time.

The company recently announced new cleaning “protocols” to reassure travelers. 

(AFP)

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