Airbnb’s popular sleepover contest has hit a very big wall.
The short-term rental service has nixed a promotion offering a one-night “dream” stay atop the Great Wall of China in the wake of a government backlash.
The promotion had promised a sleepover in one of the Great Wall’s guard towers, but Airbnb cancelled the contest when the Yanqing District cultural commission came out against it this week.
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The commission said Monday it did not support the promotion, and that it was not in line with conservation plans for the wall, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Airbnb responded with a statement saying it’s cancelled the sleepover, and that it understands and respects the government’s stance.
“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,” Airbnb wrote.
The Yanqing District cultural commission, however, said on its verified Weibo account on Monday that it had neither received nor approved any application from Airbnb.
Airbnb said it’s working on “a range of other experiences and initiatives that showcase China as a destination.” It also apologized to those who submitted entries for the contest.
A video promoting the contest is still available on Airbnb’s Twitter account.
Airbnb has offered sleepovers at dozens of dramatic locations in recent years, as part of its “Night At” series of contests.
Past winners have slept over at a LEGO house, in a shark tank, atop an Olympic ski jump and among the skulls stacked in the Paris catacombs at Halloween.
Airbnb says it’s not giving up on running a contest focused on China.
“We are working on a range of other experiences and initiatives that showcase China as a destination,” Airbnb said.
Airbnb has occasionally hit roadblocks with the Chinese government in its efforts to expand into the world’s most populous country. It’s been forced to suspend its services during politically sensitive events, disclose host information to government agencies and comply with strict government regulations, as China works to better define its homestay accommodation rules.
Airbnb said last year it would more than triple its local workforce and double its investment in the region.
— With files from Reuters