Airbnb Is Canceling Its Sleepover at the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

The accommodation site asked people to write a 500-word essay on overcoming cultural boundaries in a bid to win a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience.

Chinese state media reported that the cultural commission - which oversees the Great Wall - didn't have knowledge of the promotion, nor did it approve of the event.

The winners would have received the chance to sleep in a makeshift bed at one of the watchtowers on the Unesco-listed monument.

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

The visit would include a short hike, a "multi-course gourmet dinner" and traditional Chinese entertainment.

The company first revealed the event on its website on Thursday.

Comments ranged from praise for what likely would be a unique night to widespread concerns over being eaten alive by mosquitoes for hours.

The room would have featured a four-poster double bed open to the elements
The room would have featured a four-poster double bed open to the elements

The competition also prompted upset from some Chinese netizens, who said that the structure was a historical relic that should not be used for commercial lodging purposes. The South China Morning Post reports that the governing body, the Beijing Yanqing Cultural Commission, did not support the project as it "is not in line with the Great Wall's heritage conservation values".

In a statement online, Airbnb said there was an agreement in place which allowed them to announce the event, but that the company "deeply respect [s]" the feedback it's received.

"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".

People who had entered the competition would be contacted about other ways they could "explore and discover unbelievable experiences in China", it said.

The "Night at the Great Wall" contest was launched last Wednesday, though authorities say the firm failed to seek approval.

Airbnb has run similar competitions for the Catacombs in Paris, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Abbey Road Studios in London.

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