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Pilgrims Deter Business Travel to Sydney

By Ian Neubauer

Sydney taxis have joined a growing chorus of enterprises claiming World Youth Day (WYD) is adversely affecting sales as business travellers steer clear of the city to avoid crowding and road closures.

“Business is at least 60 per cent down at the airport,” taxi driver Allan Huang told The Australian Financial Review. “Between 8:00am and 9:30am in the morning, there are usually 500 passengers waiting at the airport for a taxi. Now it’s the opposite: 500 taxis [are] waiting for passengers.”

Deathly silence is also being felt in the retail sector, with operators describing the week as a “disaster” because young pilgrims are arriving with little discretionary income.

Hotels are also feeling the brunt, with 26,730 room nights cancelled as pilgrims seek free or budget accommodation.

This contrasts starkly with government predictions of “bumper trade”.

The NSW Business Chamber said the event would create a $231 million boom, while Government WYD spokesperson, Kristina Keneally, advised CBD businesses to prepare themselves to take “full advantage” of the tourist influx.