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Tujia.com has raised $300 million at a valuation of more than $1 billion, as the Chinese vacation rentals site often compared with Airbnb Inc. pursues financing to bankroll a global expansion.
All-Stars Investment Ltd. led the latest round of financing, the startup said in a statement on Monday. The Chinese investment firm also backs smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.
Tujia, which means “home on a journey,” is focusing on expanding its services into Asian destinations popular with Chinese travelers, Melissa Yang, the co-founder and chief technology officer, told Bloomberg in an interview.
Its main target markets include Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, though the startup already connects homeowners with vacationers as far afield as Paris and Los Angeles.
Tujia expects to list 400 million to 500 million properties for rent by year’s end, from more than 300 million now, she said.
While the startup is expanding, the Chinese economy is projected to grow at its slowest pace in a quarter-century. Yang said any slowdown would actually help the business by encouraging homeowners to list their properties in order to earn additional income. Travelers would also tend to seek cheaper alternatives to hotels, she said.
Tujia, which is backed by investors including HomeAway Inc., Ctrip.com International Ltd., LightSpeed Venture Partners and GGV Capital, has undergone three previous rounds of financing.
The company and its peers face regulatory uncertainty around the world, as local interests consider the effect of on- demand services on traditional industries from taxis to hotels.
Unlike Airbnb, which in the U.S. has drawn the attention of New York enforcement agencies for not paying hotel occupancy taxes, Tujia has so far remained relatively free of regulatory tangles. It collects the money and pays hotel levies as well as taxes on the rental income on behalf of property owners.
It also differs from its American counterpart in that it offers a range of ancillary services, from property management and inspections of listings to cleanups after guests leave.
Yang said the senior Chinese leadership has expressed support for new online businesses, including online vacation rentals.
This article was written by Lulu Yilun Chen and Edwin Chan from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.