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Airbnb cancels Great Wall of China sleepover amid backlash from Beijing

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By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

August 8, 2018 | 3 min read

Airbnb has dropped plans to host a promotional sleepover on The Great Wall of China following a backlash from Beijing authorities.

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Airbnb will no longer host a 'sleepover' on Unesco world heritage site

The sharing economy darling launched a competition last week, giving users the opportunity to sleep under the stars atop "one of the greatest architectural feats in human history".

The contest, which would also have served up a multi-course gourmet dinner and traditional Chinese music to winners, was designed to shine a spotlight on tourism in the country – but it backfired.

Following an uproar from users on Chinese social network Weibo, the Beijing Yanqing Cultural Department suggested it had neither received an application for, nor approved, the event.

Airbnb has since cancelled the event. In a statement it said: "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.

"We have made the decision to not move forward with this event.”

To be in with a chance of winning the prize, would-be guests were asked to explain: 'Why is it more important now than ever to break down barriers between cultures? How would you want to build new connections?'

While Beijing authorities didn't mention Airbnb by name, the Cultural Department told its Weibo followers: "We are grateful to the general public and online users for their concern and support for the protection of the Great Wall.

"We welcome everyone to supervise the protection of the Great Wall. We will continue to protect and strictly manage all kinds of cultural relics in the region in strict accordance with the law."

The u-turn from Airbnb comes as the brand remains without a chief marketing officer. In the past 12 months, the brand has lost its top marketer Jonathan Mildenhall and its global marketing director Alexandra Dimiziani.

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Airbnb is an American company which operates an online marketplace and hospitality service for people to lease or rent short-term lodging including holiday cottages,...

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