Who will spend, who will earn and who will lose money?

World Youth Day will be financed not from the budget but from donations by the faithful. The budget and all residents will gain because historically no one has sustained a loss by hosting the youth's celebration.

World Youth Day is primarily an event of a religious nature. Its spiritual fruits will be difficult to estimate, as opposed to its economic effect. Poland and Kraków will surely gain in terms of image and economic profit, as was the case when Madrid hosted the event. The renowned PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) consulting firm has calculated that the hosting of WYD 2001 contributed to the creation of 4,500 new jobs around Spain and nearly 3,000 in Madrid itself. There were nearly a thousand new jobs in the hotel sector, and slightly fewer in the small retail and services sector. The total impact of WYD on the economy of the country amounted to EUR 354.3 million with EUR 231.5 million for Madrid. The profit is estimated at EUR 50 million.

These are large sums, but they were gained due to small spendings by the pilgrims who visited the Spanish capital. The case of Rio, Sydney, Toronto or Cologne was similar. The more accessible the place hosting WYD, the higher the reported profit. Kraków will have an additional advantage: a few hundred thousand guests will come here for the first time. It is very likely that they will leave Poland having been impressed by our country, and many of them will return here a year or two later encouraging their friends to visit Poland. What is more, it is estimated that 600 million people will see Kraków due to the TV transmission. No amount of money spent on traditional promotion could compare to the marketing effect of the WYD. Even people who are extremely hostile to religious gatherings (and there were quite a number of such people in Spain) have to admit that this will be a powerful stimulus for the economy.

Tourist organisations have already prepared estimates. An average foreign tourist spends about PLN 180–200 in Kraków every day, and a pilgrim from Poland about PLN 100 for each day of their stay. Even if we divide these amounts by two, there will be a huge sum of money flowing into the wallets of hotel and restaurant owners', shopkeepers' and the service providers' wallets. And the gains for the budget will be no less – due to VAT. Assuming that the two million visitors that Kraków expects will include at least 500,000 foreign guests, we may expect that all the participants in the WYD will spend as much as PLN 2 billion.

It can never be said enough that the cost of everything in the field of sacrum will be covered by contributions from participants in the WYD and donations collected in churches all around the country, e.g. last Sunday. It is the faithful who finance the WYD, the state is responsible – only and as much as – for the security. However, the same measures were taken by the police, fire service, or medial services e.g. in the case of the 2012 European Football Championship. And experience from the WYD will surely be beneficial in the case of future events of such type.

The Municipality of Kraków does not plan any investment that would be focused exclusively on the event. Everything done with regard to infrastructure would have to be done anyway because it will serve the residents and tourists. What was planned for the future will be done earlier thus providing benefits as early as this year. Investments related to the surroundings of the shrine to the Divine Mercy and St John Paul II will make it possible to handle the leap in the scale of religious tourism that will take place in the years following the WYD.

It is true that the residents of Kraków and Wieliczka are already affected by difficulties resulting from the accumulation of maintenance works. There is also no doubt that the metropolis will function differently in the last week of July, but the terrifying vision of a total standstill seems to be an exaggerated one (it is the time of the summer holidays, half a million young people will come, but a quarter million students will leave). In exchange, the former capital of Poland will be the subject discussed by the entire world due to the event that can already be considered historical. Even if someone dislikes pathos, they should look forward to the World Youth Day with hope, and certainly without hysteria.

Piotr Legutko

Source: Gość Niedzielny