|A Beijing cultural bureau said it had not approved Airbnb's plan to allow competition winners to spend a night on the Great Wall of China. Photo from SCMP|
By Laurie Chan
"We understand and respect the opinions put forth by the Cultural Commission," the room-booking app provider said on Weibo, China's Twitter-like service, on Tuesday.
The statement, in Chinese, came in response to comments from the Beijing Yanqing Cultural Commission, which said on Monday night that it did not support the project as it "is not in line with the Great Wall's heritage conservation values".
The government bureau, which is responsible for the popular Badaling section of the wall, said on Weibo it had never approved any plans for the project from any organisation.
The Airbnb statement said it had been in talks with "relevant parties" over several months before launching the promotion.
"We have made the decision to not move forward with this event," it said in a separate statement in English on Tuesday, adding that it had apologised to those who had already entered the competition.
|This file picture taken on May 4, 2013 shows tourists visiting the Great wall in Beijing. Home rental website Airbnb on August 7, 2018 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. AFP-Yonhap|
Despite its comments, the page promoting the competition was still available on the company's English and Chinese websites on Wednesday.
Beijing Badaling Tourism Company, Airbnb's local partner on the project, said, meanwhile, that the two companies were "still working together", but did not elaborate.
The cultural commission declined to comment on the issue.
China introduced a law in 2006 to protect the 2,600-year old Great Wall, part of which prohibits the building of any structures on it that are not part of an official conservation effort.
Airbnb's plan to convert a watchtower into a bedroom upset many people online.
"The Great Wall is a historic relic … how can they let it be turned into a common guest house?" a person wrote on Weibo.
The company said last week that "protecting historical and cultural relics was the original intention of our activity".
One of the modern seven wonders of the world and a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Great Wall of China stretches about 21,000km (13,000 miles) from Liaoning province in China's northeast to Gansu province in the northwest.