The Pope's recently announced visit to the United States is still 10 months away, but hotels are already selling out ahead of his September 2015 appearance in Pennsylvania. Up to 2 million Catholics are expected to travel to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families and papal mass. They need somewhere to stay, and Philadelphia's 11,500 hotel rooms are going quickly, CBS Philly reported.
"Our phone has been ringing off of the hook. Our reservation department, when they got in this morning, people were calling 'how do I get rooms?' It's going to be a really special event," local hotel manager Michele Simpson told ABC.
Hotels located within 10 miles of downtown Philadelphia sold out Monday, the Associated Press reported. In order to be nearby for the first papal visit to the U.S. since 2008, visitors will likely need to stay in hotels miles away from the city, Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association executive director Ed Grose told News Works. Even that might not be enough: The region around Philadelphia has 40,000 rooms, and going east to Atlantic City only results in 70,000 rooms, CBS reported.
After the announcement, World Meeting of Families organizers were preparing for the media presence that accompanies any papal activity. "There have been some hotels that have been contacted by the news media, some organizations that have been trying to book whole hotels," Grose said. The Diocese of Pittsburgh, for example, reserved 140 rooms for people interested in attending, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In response, the World Meeting of Families was urging people to seek out host families to stay with for the duration of the Pope's visit, executive director Donna Farrell told CBS. "Without that, we cannot accommodate all of our visitors coming from all over the world," she said.
The international Roman Catholic conference was scheduled to run Sept. 22 to 27. The Pope's Philadelphia visit is expected to generate about $417 million for the city, News Works reported.