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'Airbnb delivered on a lot of pieces that PM wanted’

Chris Lehane, global policy head for Airbnb said over the past four years, Airbnb has worked on delivering on a lot of different pieces that Prime Minister Narendra Modi identified for the company in his meeting with founder Brian Chesky.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 23, 2019, 12.11 PM IST
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India is among the top three markets for the company in the long term, Chris Lehane, global policy head for Airbnb said.
NEW DELHI: Airbnb has had a history of run-ins with cities around the world over policies and regulations, but the company is now in policy 2.0 where most cities are figuring out ways to work with it, Chris Lehane, global policy head for Airbnb, said during an interview to ET.

“In India, we have sort of jumped straight into policy 2.0. We are viewed as partners and are working with the government. Policy 1.0 was conflict-based as we were a new thing. Barring an outlier like New York, most cities in the world are now figuring out ways to work with us,” Lehane said. He said over the past four years, Airbnb has worked on delivering on a lot of different pieces that Prime Minister Narendra Modi identified for the company in his meeting with founder Brian Chesky.

India is among the top three markets for the company in the long term, Lehane said.

“Asia is on pace by 2022-2023 to become the largest market and the growth will be driven by China and India,” he added. Lehane, the global head of public policy and communications at Airbnb, said the prime minister’s calling out to app-based home sharing players in India to boost travel and tourism is a really strong signal.

“When our founder Brian Chesky met Prime Minister Modi four years ago, the prime minister talked about how our platform should work to support domestic travel and how app-based platforms could help skill the workforce. He also spoke specifically about promoting northeast tourism. Over the last four years, we have delivered on a lot of different pieces that PM Modi identified,” said Lehane.

“We have seen a 70% growth of our platform in terms of supporting domestic travel over the past two years. We have focused a lot on skilling the workforce, in particular women and lesser-served communities. In India, as we have grown to 50,000-plus listings, we have taken the prime minister’s words to heart and have advanced in keeping with country’s vision for travel,” he added.

Referring to Oyo, in which Airbnb is an investor, Lehane said the company’s investment in the hospitality firm is in line with its vision to make sure there is a diversity of options for travellers. “A number of domestic businesses from India are becoming global powerhouses. That speaks of where India is going,” he added.

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