Airbnb Scraps Great Wall Competition After Chinese Outcry

The company offered a stay at the historic site including a dinner, hike, concert and calligraphy experience to promote China as a travel destination.

Airbnb has canceled its contest that would have offered a luxurious night at the Great Wall of China after an outcry in the country about preserving the historic site.

“We have made the decision to not move forward with this event and instead we are working on a range of other experiences and initiatives that showcase China as a destination and highlight how people-to-people travel can drive human connections,” the short-term rental company said in a Tuesday statement.

The Cultural Affairs Commission of Beijing’s Yanqing District said Tuesday it did not support the Airbnb contest and it did not receive the proper documentation to review it. The commission also said the contest was not aligned with its mission to preserve the Great Wall.

In 2006, China implemented a law regulating conservation of the Great Wall. The policy forbids “fixing any establishment, fixtures, or equipment irrelevant to the Great Wall protection.” However, tourists are allowed to camp during treks along the wall.

As a part of its contest, Airbnb offered a stay in a watchtower on the Great Wall, as well as a sunset dinner, a sunrise hike, a concert and a calligraphy experience to promote China as a travel destination.

Airbnb was working with Beijing Badaling Tourism Company on the promotion, according to The Star.

A popular tourist destination, the Great Wall is more than 13,000 miles long and is located in northern China. It was designated one of the “the New Seven Wonders of the World” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Users on the Chinese social media platform Weibo voiced concern that the contest would harm the Great Wall.

Yong Chen, a history professor at University of California, Irvine, also disagreed with the Airbnb contest.

“This is an ill-conceived and culturally insensitive idea,” Chen said.