Thousands of People Are Booking Airbnbs in Ukraine As an Instant Way to Send Direct Aid
Travelers are taking to Airbnb in droves to help support Ukrainians.
According to Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, people booked more than 61,000 nights in Ukrainian Airbnbs to help support hosts in just two days.
"In 48 hours, 61,406 nights have been booked in Ukraine. That's $1.9M going to Hosts in need," Chesky tweeted. "Such a cool idea from our community. Thank you."
According to Airbnb, that includes more than 34,000 nights booked by U.S. guests, more than 8,000 nights booked by UK guests, and nearly 3,000 nights booked by Canadian guests. The bookings totaled almost $2 million in value. To further help in the effort, Airbnb says it's temporarily waiving guest and host fees on bookings in Ukraine.
"Dear beautiful people of the world! Thank you so much for your support," Lena, an Airbnb experience host in Kiev wrote in a message on her page. "You're so numerous that I don't have time to respond to everyone personally. I'm staying in Ukraine and don't want to flee. Your money will be invested in our victory. And when the war is over, welcome to Ukraine! My country is great and worthy of visiting – and, of course, worthy of fighting for it."
In a private message over Airbnb, Yuri, an Experience host specializing in Ukrainian wine tastings in Odesa, told Travel + Leisure, "There are no words to describe the feeling of reading your letters and receiving support. With such prayers from all of humanity and energy, we are much stronger." Yuri added, "I invite everyone to Ukraine later. We will definitely raise a glass of good wine and walk along the peaceful streets…thank you very much for your support and sympathy. It's even more important than money. We will stand until the end. Peace and love will win."
Waving fees isn't the only way Airbnb is hoping to help the Ukrainian community. On Feb. 28, Chesky tweeted the company, in partnership with its nonprofit, Airbnb.org, will provide free, temporary housing for at least 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. Airbnb also announced it is suspending operations in both Russia and Belarus.
Chesky additionally noted in an interview with CNN that his company has provided free housing to some 54,000 refugees across the globe, most recently to refugees of the crisis in Afghanistan over the last decade.
"In a global humanitarian crisis like this, I think everyone should ask the question: how can we help," he said. "The way Airbnb can help is we provide housing for millions of people every night all over the world. If you want to take in a refugee family, we are going to work with resettlement partners."
Beyond booking, the company has also added new ways to host refugees and those in need, new pathways to donate via its charity, and a portal for those looking for housing.
See all the available experiences you can "book" right now via Airbnb Experiences in the Ukraine here — and just be sure to leave a message of support for your host (and clarify that you don't actually plan to visit right now).