|Vatican||WHEN IN ROME, JUBILEE VISITORS SPEND LIKE PILGRIMS, NOT TOURISTS|
Religious orders operating guest houses in Rome are touched by the faith of pilgrims visiting Rome for the Holy Year, but hotel operators are complaining that they are not spending enough money.
``The people this year are definitely coming on a pilgrimage and many more of them are poor,'' said Sr Sue Morissette, who handles reservations at the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement guest house near the Vatican.
``They are looking for minimal price and minimal service. Their objective is to cross those Holy Doors'' at Rome's major basilicas, she said. By early April the US bishops' office for visitors in Rome was buried under requests for tickets to Pope John Paul II's Holy Week and Easter celebrations.
In fact, said Mercy Sister Gilmary Kay, the office's busy season started in February this year, with visitors asking for tickets to the pope's general audiences.
``It was like Holy Week every week,'' she said. ``I don't know what to expect for Holy Week and Easter this year; it's already much greater than it was last year.''
Luigi Zanda, president of the city of Rome's jubilee agency, said Italian government forecasts on the number and type of Holy Year visitors has been accurate so far.
``Our studies have resulted in the profile of a poor person on a pilgrimage, not a millionaire on a cruise,'' Zanda said.
Alberto Zuliani of the National Statistics Institute said his office estimated that the average pilgrim would spend the equivalent of $A84 a day in Rome, including the cost of lodging. In contrast, the average foreign tourist spent the equivalent of $A201 a day in Rome in 1999, Zuliani said.