Airbnb axes Great Wall of China stay competition after conservation concerns

Airbnb axes Great Wall of China stay competition after conservation concerns

Popular holiday rental website Airbnb has cancelled a competition offering a prize of a one-night-stay on the Great Wall of China following a social media upset.

The competition generated hype among international social media users, promising four winners a stay on part of the ancient wall, before Airbnb announced on Tuesday that it would be scrapped.

The decision came after some Chinese social media users questioned the integrity of the competition, expressing concerns for conservation of the site.

“No matter how they dress it up, this doesn’t hide the fact that this contest is by a private company that will undeniably cause damage to an ancient artifact,” one user posted on Weibo, a Chinese platform similar to Twitter.

Officials opposed to event

Officials from the Yanqing district of Beijing, which houses the section of the wall that was on offer, also said in a statement they had not been notified of the event and had not approved it.

“One of the goals of our Night At The Great Wall was to highlight how everyone can play a part in honoring and preserving this incredible piece of world history,” Airbnb said in a statementon Tuesday.

“We partnered with experts to help educate people about the Wall’s heritage and raise awareness of protection and preservation efforts.”

The company said they would not move forward with the event but would instead work on offering other experiences to showcase China.

Great Wall ‘opens arms to welcome all’

Marketed as a chance to celebrate the thousand-year-old border wall’s transformation into a site that brings people together, the competition called on entrants to submit a 550-character “artistic and creative” story addressing the topic of breaking down cultural barriers.

“Historically, the Great Wall was built to be a border. And today, it opens arms to welcome all,” Airbnb wrote on its website.

Airbnb has hosted similar competitions for other globally recognized locations in the past, including the Catacombs in Paris, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and Abbey Road Studios in London.