By Catholic News Service
SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) – The estimated cost of staging World Youth Day in Sydney has increased by 50 percent to $150 million (US$137.5 million), said a briefing paper circulated to local priests by the Sydney Archdiocese.
However, the paper quoted a Sydney Chamber of Commerce report that World Youth Day will deliver long-term economic benefits in excess of $230 million (US$210 million). The briefing paper was released in early March.
The briefing paper said that in addition to the immediate economic benefit from tourism and commerce World Youth Day – scheduled for July 15-20 – would showcase Sydney and Australia and contribute to tourism and industry for decades to come.
"Almost all our leaders – of whatever religious and political affiliation – also recognize that beyond the hugely positive economic impact, there is great social value in offering young people spiritual values and ideals, hope and reason to celebrate," it said.
The briefing paper said almost half the costs would be covered by pilgrim fees. The rest would be made up by federal grants, the church, donors, business partners and sponsors.
"The total costs of WYD08 will depend on many factors, with the most significant being the number of pilgrims who register to participate," it said.
It said that most of the money committed by federal and state governments would go to providing services to pilgrims. The government of the state of New South Wales also will help with the event through the provision of venues, including Royal Randwick Racecourse, public transport for pilgrims, policing, sleeping accommodation at public schools and emergency health care.
It said $4 of every $5 in the $150 million would go toward providing accommodation, meals and services for more than 200,000 local and international pilgrims at up to 300 catechesis venues located around the city.
The Archdiocese of Sydney, said the paper, "has budgeted to make a substantial contribution toward the costs of World Youth Day... because it shares the Holy Father's belief that World Youth Day will make a substantial and ongoing contribution to Australia's, and the world's, Catholic youth."
The paper said the archdiocese needed to establish major sites for the pilgrims and events as well as cover the costs of those events.
The briefing paper told priests that the costs to taxpayers of staging the Sydney Olympics and the 2007 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum "were substantially more" than the cost of World Youth Day.
The support required for World Youth Day "is nowhere near the $900 million (US$824.7 million) provided for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne – but it is sufficient for what we need," it said.
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