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Extremely bullish on India, it's a long-term investment, says Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky


NEW DELHI: The travel and hospitality sector in India is among the worst hit following the Covid-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t dented Airbnb cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky’s optimism about the country.

“I’m extremely bullish on India. To invest in the Indian market is to be making a long-term investment,” Chesky said in an interaction with Satyan Gajwani, vice chairman of Times Internet Ltd, at the ET Global Business Summit. “I think this is the early part of the very first chapter of the India community on Airbnb and I’m really excited to help the platform enable tens of thousands and, one day, millions of people become entrepreneurs as hosts on Airbnb in India and allow people in India to not only experience India but experience nearly every country in the world.”

‘Optimistic resurgence in the industry’

He said the country is a key hub for Airbnb. It has a large number of people who work there, focusing not just on the India region but also on global guest and host operations.

Chesky said the travel industry has been “irreversibly altered” due to the pandemic. But there has been an “optimistic resurgence” months after the world entered a global shutdown in March. “We had to make a lot of very difficult decisions and had to essentially restructure the company,” he said. “Then, all of a sudden, we started seeing some glimmers of hope.”

“People, after having been locked in their homes for months, are saying they wanted to get out of their homes but they don’t want to get on planes. They are not travelling for business and they are not crossing borders but they are getting in a car and they want to travel with not more than maybe a tank and a half of gas,” he said. “And they want to stay in local communities and so there was Airbnb for them.”

Beyond cities
As much as 60% of Airbnb’s business is now outside cities as a result of the pandemic and Chesky foresees more travel redistribution going ahead. About Airbnb’s IPO plans, Chesky said the company has filed its registration statement with the SEC. It will go public when the markets are ready for Airbnb, he said.





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