Airbnb has called off a competition offering to chance to spend a night on the Great Wall of China.

The accommodation site asked people to write a 500-word essay on overcoming cultural boundaries in a bid to win a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. But the plan sparked mixed feedback and concerns that it could contribute to the historic structure being damaged.

According to Chinese media, Airbnb had never received approval from local authorities to run the event.

The firm said it,

“deeply respected the feedback” and so had “made the decision to not move forward with this event”.

The competition offered the exclusive chance to sleep in one of the ruined watch towers on the Unesco-listed Great Wall near Beijing, with a proper bed but neither windows nor roof.

The visit would include a short hike, a “multi-course gourmet dinner” and traditional Chinese entertainment.

Airbnb presented it as a showcase to “promote sustainable tourism to China by spotlighting wide-ranging efforts to preserve the Wall’s deep heritage”.