To support hosts in war-torn Ukraine, thousands are booking on Airbnb with no intention of staying
Countries in the throes of war aren’t typical destinations for travelers, but that didn’t stop Edmonton’s Cheryl Andrews from recently booking an Airbnb stay for April in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, which is currently besieged by the invasion. Russian troops.
But Andrews, like many others who have booked accommodation in Ukraine with the home rental company, has no intention of going there.
WATCH | Ukrainian Airbnbs are seeing an influx of fake bookings to support hosts:
As Ukraine responds to Russian invasionshe and others have booked stays in Ukraine through Airbnb to financially support those under siege.
“I saw someone say, ‘Here’s a great way to contact someone in Ukraine directly. Don’t give them so much money, but let them know that people are hearing this, it’s a global problem,’” Andrews told CBC News. .
“I saw someone else did it and I was like, ‘That’s awesome, I’m going to jump on it.’ “
Like Andrews, Krisztián Vajon, based near Budapest in Hungary, heard about the initiative on Twitter and booked his stay within minutes.
“I was looking [at] the cities most affected, you know, by the Russian invasion,” he told CBC News.
He said he was related to a man named Yuri who thought the booking was fake and tried to return the money.
“I said, ‘No, no, don’t, there’s nothing wrong with that. ‘” Vajon said. “I do not know [plan] obviously to go there next weekend… and then he was super happy about it.”
Nearly 3,000 reservations made by Canadians
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced Friday that the company is joining others in suspending operations in Russia and its ally Belarus following the invasion of Ukraine. Countries, such as Canada, have also imposed major sanctions on these countries and some of their institutions.
Chesky tweeted on Friday that from March 2-3 more than 61,000 reservations were made in Ukraine. Of the bookings, the company told CBC News that nearly 3,000 were made by Canadians. He also said he would temporarily waive guest and host fees in Ukraine.
“That’s $1.9 million for hosts in need,” Chesky wrote. “Such a cool idea from our community.”
One such host is Andriy Fedoriv in Polyanytsya, western Ukraine.
Speaking through a translator, he told CBC News he was initially surprised when he started getting bookings from places like Estonia, Finland and Italy .
Now he feels immense gratitude, but adds that it would be more helpful if people donated helmets and bulletproof vests to those on the front lines of war.
More than a million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries since the invasion, and those still in the country face shortages of food, water and electricity as well as daily shelling.
John Mitchell from the UK hopes his booking in Odessa can help the host in these difficult times and hopes to visit the southern port city in “the not too distant future” – hopefully in better times.
“We vacation a lot on Airbnb,” Mitchell told CBC News of himself and his wife. “I thought it seemed like a really simple and efficient way to do something very, very small.”
“We did the usual kind of message [to the host] to say we’re making this reservation, but obviously we’re not going to come, we just want to bring you some money,” he said.
Mitchell shared a screenshot of the host’s response with CBC News. He read:
“Thank you very much for your support. I cannot hold back my emotions… Thank you from me, my family and all of Ukraine.”