Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Airbnb pulls plans for Great Wall sleepover after uproar

Airbnb pulls plans for Great Wall sleepover after uproar

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The Great Wall of China is shown at sunset on the outskirt of Beijing. NICOLAS ASFOURI/afp

Airbnb pulls plans for Great Wall sleepover after uproar

Home rental website Airbnb has scrapped a contest offering a chance to spend the night at a section of the Great Wall of China after an online backlash from people worried it could damage the site.

News of the “Night At The Great Wall” contest lit up Chinese social media, with critics calling it a publicity stunt that lacked respect for the ancient monument.

“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 person wrote on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.

Officials from the Yanqing district – home to the section of the Great Wall that was to host the sleepover – said in a statement that they had not been notified about the event and that no approval was given.

“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,” Airbnb said Tuesday.

Launched last week, the contest invited users to write about breaking down cultural barriers and building new connections.

Four winners would get the chance to spent the night in a customised bedroom built in an ancient watchtower of the wall, which Airbnb said was done in consultation with conservation experts so that “not a single nail” of the Wall would need to be moved.

“This unprecedented level of access will showcase the Great Wall to the world and promote sustainable tourism to China by spotlighting wide ranging efforts to preserve the Wall’s deep heritage and bring Chinese culture to life,” the contest site said.

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

More than 8.6 million Chinese tourists have used Airbnb and the company has about 150,000 room listings in China. However, it is facing stiff competition from local rivals such as Tujia and Xiaozhu, which have flourished in the absence of official government regulations surrounding the fast-growing sector.

Airbnb agreed at the end of March to provide travellers’ passport information to local authorities to comply with regulations that require all foreign visitors to China to register their accommodation details with the police.

The company has come under increasing pressure elsewhere, as cities and landlords crack down on “hosts” essentially turning homes into hotels.

Tourist hotspots such as New York, Paris and Tokyo have all passed laws regulating short-term rentals.

MOST VIEWED

  • EU parliament’s 13-point vote to decide on possible sanctions

    The European Parliament is due to vote on Thursday on a 13-point resolution on Cambodia – which includes a call for the treason charges against bailed opposition leader Kem Sokha to be dropped – a threat that could see the EU enforce a range of sanctions against

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • PM vows to ‘protect’ Chinese interests

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday told Chinese companies investing in Cambodia not to worry about contract cancellation in the Kingdom. Speaking at a roundtable meeting with business executives in China as co-chair of the China-Asean Expo, the prime minister told six Chinese conglomerates with