Norwegian Billionaire Offers 5,000 Nights in Hotel Chain to Refugees

A Norwegian billionaire who owns Scandinavia's largest hotel chain, has offered refugees arriving in Norway 5,000 free nights in one of his hotels. Petter Stordalen, the owner of Nordic Choice Hotels, posted a message on Twitter on Tuesday evening, offering 5,000 nights "to refugees who need it."

Stordalen directed his offer to The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI)—who are responsible for housing refugees in Norway. The UDI accepted Stordalen's proposal on a provisional basis. "We appreciate Mr. Stordalens offer and we'll consider using his hotels when and if the situation is really urgent," Christine Wilberg, the director of Department for Regions, Reception and Return at the UDI told Newsweek. "The most important thing right now, however, is to find more permanent housing for the refugees."

Speaking to Norwegian news agency NTB, Stordalen said the refugee drama unfolding in Europe "concerns absolutely everyone," adding that he would also cover the meal costs for those who stay in his hotels.

On Monday, the UDI asked humanitarian charity Red Cross to provide 60 beds for refugees, as a sudden influx of arrivals meant that the UDI were in danger of running out of space. They also appealed to sports clubs and local associates to offer accommodation too.

Stordalen founded Nordic Choice Hotels in 1990 and according to Forbes magazine, has a net worth of $1.53 billion, making him the seventh richest man in Norway. He had previously approached the UDI in April with an offer to shelter 1,000 refugees.

While Norway is not an EU member state, Nordic Choice Hotels are found in a number of EU countries including Denmark, Latvia, Sweden and Lithuania. It is unclear whether Stordalen will offer rooms to refugees within these countries, or just in Norway.

According to statistics provided by the UDI, the number of asylum requests in Norway could reach up to 16,000 by then end of 2015, compared to 11,480 in 2014.