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Travel & Leisure

Asia's travel startups battle for survival as investors pull back

Companies show entrepreneurial drive with pivot to souvenirs and meals

KKday expanded into online souvenir sales after the huge downturn in its travel business. (Photo by Yuki Kohara)

HONG KONG -- Things were going well for KKday. The revenues of the Taiwan-based online travel site mushroomed for three years in a row. The startup drew in tens of millions of dollars from renowned investors, including Alibaba Group Holding and Line, and it broke into a string of new markets.

But KKday has arguably had to show as much entrepreneurial mettle to get through the coronavirus pandemic and the associated paralysis in international travel. With orders canceled and revenue down 90% in early April, the company has migrated to a slightly different line of business: selling souvenirs online.

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