Polish tourism industry helps Ukrainian refugees
Sending help from further afield
Larger travel agencies have also joined in the effort to provide facilities and services to refugees. Airbnb, in partnership with its nonprofit arm Airbnb.org, has worked with hosts to provide free temporary housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine to neighboring countries including Poland, Hungary and Romania. .
Thousands of people around the world have also booked and paid for Airbnbs in Ukraine, without intending to travel there, with the aim of sending money to Ukrainian owners. Between March 2 and March 3, more than 61,000 nights were booked in Ukraine, including 34,000 by people in the United States, the company reported.
Paige Holden, 43, an interior designer from Los Angeles, was initially skeptical of the initiative, fearing that if she booked an Airbnb property, hosts would not be able to access the funds. But after contacting some of them and seeing their desperation, she immediately booked an apartment in a Kiev property, which sent $4,700 to a family of five.
“After sending in a survey, a woman from Kiev sent me a photo of her three young children, huddled in a cold, dark basement full of other distraught families,” Ms Holden said.
“You have to remember that these people lost everything overnight, their homes, their income, all they have to do is fight for their lives,” she said.
Over the past week, Benjamin Wagner, 27, a part-time tour guide and history student based in Berlin, has driven refugees from that city’s central station to host families across the city, making volunteering via a WhatsApp group.
“Right now it doesn’t matter where you come from, what you do or where you work,” Wagner said. “We all have a collective responsibility to help our Ukrainian brothers and sisters. This humanitarian crisis affects us all, and tomorrow we could be in their shoes.