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Pilgrims and Business Travellers Avoid Sydney Hotels


By Ian Neubauer

Occupancy rates for hotels have fallen to 70 per cent in Sydney as corporate travellers street clear of the city in the lead up to World Youth Day.

Hotels are also grappling with 26,730 room cancellations as the ‘pilgrim market’ forgoes the 5-star market for budget accommodation, The Australian Financial Review reported.

“Basically this is a double whammy because the conference and corporate markets that trade Monday to Friday are staying away because of the perceived inconvenience the event poses,” Australian Hotels Association CEO, Sally Fielke, told the newspaper.

Hoteliers have expressed disappointment over the lower than expected occupancies, with some offering substantial
discounts to fill rooms.

Philip Ryall, managing director of Harvest Tours, the official travel agency of World Youth Day, put some of the blame on hotels that took an ‘Olympic approach’ with premium pricing policies. “Hotels were not the only option, and push came to shove with budgets,” he said. 

Up to 500,000 pilgrims are expected to visit Sydney for next week’s event, including Pope Benedict XVI.