Thursday, June 19, 2008


Less than a month before Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Sydney for World Youth Day, an unholy row is brewing over the event's costs and its impact on local businesses in Australia's biggest city.

The five-day celebration of Catholic youth has been billed as a major boost to the city's economy, attracting up to 125,000 international visitors and culminating in a Papal mass before 500,000 people on July 20....

World Youth Day's funding has come under scrutiny after the New South Wales government committed almost 110 million dollars (103.5 million US) to staging the event, arguing that it will pump 150 million into the economy....

Rhiannon said concerns raised by Sydney's hoteliers this month showed the predicted economic benefits from WYD did not hold up.

Australian Hotels Association chief executive Sally Fielke said hotels had been forced to reduce their rates because the anticipated flood of pilgrims had not materialised and ordinary tourists were avoiding the city over that period.

Bookings showed occupancy rates -- normally 75 percent -- were down to 30 percent, she said.

Read it here.

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