Airbnb’s Great Wall contest worries some people in China
The winners of a competition hosted by the property-rental app will be able to stay overnight in one of the ancient Wall’s roofless beacon towers, converted into a bedroom with basic amenities. To qualify, users have to submit a short essay about why it’s important to break down cultural barriers.
“It’s been an honor to work with historians and preservationists groups in Beijing to bring this once-in-a-lifetime experience to the world,” said Airbnb China chairman Nathan Blecharczyk. “We are so proud to partner in this truly collective effort to highlight such an incredible landmark that now serves to unify people rather than divide them.”
But not everyone’s convinced it’s a good idea.
Under Airbnb’s social media post on China’s Weibo, the most upvoted comment asked, “The Great Wall is a cultural relic and protected monument. Can a project like this get approval? Is this really legal?”
Laws in China prohibit building any facilities on the Great Wall that are not for conservation purposes. But there are no laws banning people from sleeping at the site, and some companies even offer camping trips, according to the South China Morning Post.
In response, Airbnb said it won’t “hammer one nail” on the Great Wall. On Tuesday, it followed up with a longer post -- saying it’s been coordinating with government departments for months on the event, and stressing that the activity is free-of-charge, with the main goal being to showcase Chinese culture.
Still, there were more concerns from Chinese netizens.
One Weibo user asked, “What happens if it rains?”
Airbnb’s answer: “We’ll provide a thin transparent roof.”
One user commented, “207 mosquitoes liked this post.”
Another posted, “What if I get hungry in the middle of the night?”
But others were more supportive.
One wrote, “Integrating history with daily lives. Letting us and people from other countries immerse in our culture. Isn’t that great?”
Another said, “I really want to sleep on the Great Wall. To protect cultural relics, I can skip using bug repellent even if it means I’d get bitten and swell like a pig’s head.”