Free tourist visas for WYD participants

Source |  With less than 500 days left in the countdown to World Youth Day in Sydney, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile has announced that the Government will grant free three-month visas for all participants.

“A three-month visa will allow those visitors to explore more of Australia while they’re here, and allows other parts of the country to share in the hosting of World Youth Day,” Mr Vaile said according to a Zenit report.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Mr Vaile is replacing Environmental Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the World Youth Day organising committee because the latter is now – in the words of Sydney Cardinal George Pell – “sorting out the water problems of the country”.

According to Cardinal Pell, “the young people who come to World Youth Day will overwhelmingly be pilgrims rather than simply tourists, although I know they will be attracted by the beauty of Sydney and the interest and variety of Australia”.

According to the Herald, up to 150,000 international visitors are now expected with a similar number of local people expected to participate and numbers swelling to 500,000 for the final mass with Pope Benedict.

NSW and federal governments have committed support conservatively valued at $40 million and Tourism NSW estimates it will generate $150 million for the state, the Herald says.

World Youth Day organisers have also announced the opening of group registrations for the 15-20 July 2008 event which can be done through the WYD 2008 website.

Meanwhile, groups around the world are gearing up for what organisers say is the world’s largest youth event.

The Maltese Catholic youth commission (Kummissjoni Djocesana Zghazagh – KDZ) has launched a special “World Youth Day” Bank Account in partnership with a local bank, the Maltese Independent reports.

The special account aims to provide an incentive for young people to save enough money to come to Australia for World Youth Day.

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