It's official! Pope Francis has confirmed that he will be visiting the City of Brotherly Love in 2015 for the World Meeting of Families, the largest Catholic gathering of families.
Officials of the various trade and visitors organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area are already counting the numbers and the anticipation of about 1.5 million visitors has hotel and other area businesses almost jumping for joy.
The event, especially the last two days when Pope Francis is expected to participate, will be an economic boon for the region — on both sides of the river. Perhaps Bill Fitzgerald, president of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, expressed what everyone is feeling. "We see it as a huge opportunity to showcase the suburban area. (The event will) have over a million international and domestic travelers into the city, so it's an opportunity for us to shed some light (not only ) on the city, but the whole region."
There is little doubt that those iin the hospitality industry in South Jersey, with its large number of hotel/motel rooms and excellent restaurants, expect to get their share of the business. And, for an entirely different reason, Catholics throughout the region are looking forward to the Pope's visit with great anticipation.