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Airbnb’s sleepover contest at the Great Wall of China has been cancelled

Airbnb has called off a contest inviting people to sleep over at the Great Wall of China, following backlash over the proposal.

Announced last week, the competition dubbed “Night at the Great Wall” would let four winners stay overnight at the UNESCO World Heritage site in September, as part of an effort to “bring Chinese culture to life” and “promote sustainable tourism to China.”

Entrants were asked to submit a 550-character story, but the contest was cancelled on Wednesday following a mixed reaction by Chinese locals on social media.

“The Great Wall is a historical relic under protection, how can they let it be turned into a common guest house?!” read one comment, according to the South China Morning Post.

Another comment was more supportive, if Airbnb was selective about its winner. “Airbnb has come to China to promote Chinese culture, if they do it well we can support them,” it reads.

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. 

It added that such activities wouldn’t be supported by the commission as they don’t preserve cultural heritage.

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 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 statement read.

In recent years, Airbnb has offered up chances to stay at unique locations, like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the vessel in Blue Planet II, and even in the house of Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul.

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