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English Heritage drops partnership with P&O Ferries

31 Oct 2022 News

English Heritage has officially ended its partnership with P&O Ferries following a review but rebuffed criticism of its controvertial acceptance of a donation from Airbnb. 

The charity began a review of its relationship with the ferry operator in March after the latter came under fire for firing 800 of its staff to cover a “£100m loss year on year”. 

At the time, the charity said: “P&O Ferries is a members’ reward partner – meaning English Heritage members could enjoy offers and discounts with the company – but given the recent developments, we’re pausing and reviewing this partnership.”

A spokesperson for the charity has now confirmed that following that review it is no longer a partner with P&O Ferries.

This comes as the charity recently accepted a £1.25m donation from Airbnb which aims to support the conservation of historic sites around England and boost tourism.

Will McMahon, director of Action on Empty Homes, criticised English Heritage for accepting the donation.

He told the Guardian: “Airbnb’s donation seems to serve one purpose – it’s a sort of cultural greenwashing for what has become an investment platform taking homes out of residential use and worsening our housing crisis.

“Airbnb clearly has a strategic understanding of their own vulnerabilities and in my view are making corporate donations to offset the poor publicity they are now receiving countrywide due to short lets impacting on long-standing local communities in city, coast and countryside alike.”

Responding to the criticism, English Heritage said that it looks after more than 400 sites across the country, with nearly a quarter of visits to these being located in some of the most deprived areas. 

“Supporting English Heritage, whether as a visitor, member or donor, supports investment in those areas,” a spokesperson added.  

Kate Mavor, chief executive of English Heritage, said: “We’re very grateful to Airbnb for its most generous donation. English Heritage is an independent charity and support like Airbnb’s is vital to protect the great stone circles and castles, abbeys and historic houses in our care. It is thanks to support like this that the charity is spending more money than ever before conserving sites for the benefit of the public – right across England.”

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