Sweden Lists Itself on Airbnb for Free
Forget about a tiny, expensive Manhattan studio apartment: Why not reserve an entire rustic forest on Airbnb for your next camping trip? Or maybe your own private island? Perhaps you'd like to pitch a tent on a secluded beach with huge limestone columns jutting out of it?
As long as you're willing to make Sweden your destination, you can find all of that and more on Airbnb starting on Tuesday, and best of all, it's free. The listings are actually a marketing gimmick devised by Sweden's tourism agency to highlight the country's "freedom to roam laws," which allow anyone to access and camp on public lands for free, according to the country's Airbnb profile.
"Allemansrätten -- or the freedom to roam -- is a principle protected by Swedish law that gives all people the right to be free in Swedish nature," the profile explains. "In other words, Swedish nature isn't just a piece of land with trees and lakes and cliffs -- it's a home with all the necessities and amenities that any great home should have."
You can't actually book any of the listings -- each one simply includes a "Visit Sweden" link that takes you to the tourism agency's website instead of a booking button. You also aren't guaranteed to have the spot you select all to yourself, but considering that Sweden is among the least densely-populated countries in Europe, your odds are pretty good.
The Swedish public lands listing is a much-needed bright spot for Airbnb. Critics claim the company strains the supply of affordable housing in major cities, and municipal governments worldwide have passed legislation that restricts the types of listings on the site. Those laws have resulted in years of litigation, especially in the U.S.
Perhaps to counteract some of the negative attention, Airbnb appears to have agreed to the Swedish campaign as a goodwill gesture: Fast Company reports that neither the tourism agency nor Airbnb is getting paid.