Wednesday 19 June 2019

Too good to be true? Airbnb scraps plan for sleepovers at the Great Wall of China

Concerns were raised that the temporary stay would damage the iconic landmark, Soo Kim reports

Great Wall of China. Photo: Airbnb
Great Wall of China. Photo: Airbnb
Great Wall of China. Photo: Airbnb

Soo Kim

Airbnb’s plans to offer a unique chance to spend the night at the Great Wall of China have been cancelled following backlash from local authorities.

The authorities claim the stay had never been approved, raising concerns that the temporary accommodation would risk damage to the historic Chinese landmark.

The Beijing Yanqing Cultural Commission, which manages the Badaling section of the Great Wall where the room was to be built, had reportedly never been approached about the stay or approved the pop-up event, which would have seen four winners (each joined by a guest) of an online competition stay overnight at the ancient fortification.

The commission said it did not support the project as it is “not in line with the Great Wall’s heritage conservation values”, according to a statement, the South China Morning Post reports.

Airbnb claimed “there was an agreement in place” that formed the basis for the event announcement but did not confirm when or in what ways it had contacted local authorities for approval on the project or outline what the agreement entailed when Telegraph Travel contacted Airbnb for a comment.

But the company has cancelled the event following the feedback received.

Great Wall of China. Photo: Airbnb
Great Wall of China. Photo: Airbnb

“We have made the decision to not move forward with this event,” Airbnb announced in a statement.

“We were excited to promote the Great Wall and Chinese cultural heritage with our Night At The Great Wall and while there was an agreement in place that was the basis for the announcement of this event, we deeply respect the feedback we have received,” the statement said.

Airbnb is said to instead be “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.”

"We remain committed to that goal and in the weeks and months ahead, we will be working closely with our hosts and guests in China as well as community leaders to highlight the culture and history that make China one of the most dynamic destinations in the world."

The company has apologised to those who have already entered the competition and said they would be contacted about other ways to "explore and discover amazing experiences in China."

The project was a collaboration between Airbnb and the state-owned Beijing Badaling Tourism Company, which claimed the two groups are “still working together”, the South China Morning Post reports. But it has yet to be confirmed whether the event will be resurrected in the future.

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