World Youth Day: Pope’s visit sees surge in flight bookings to Poland

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International flight arrivals to Krakow, Poland, have soared for the Pope’s visit to World Youth Day, according to ForwardKeys which monitors future travel patterns by analyzing 14 million reservation transactions each day.

Air travelers reached their peak on July 25, the day before the opening ceremony of the 6-day global Catholic festival.

The ForwardKeys analysis shows that for 23-25 July forward bookings were up 126% compared with the same period last year.

Most of the increase in international arrivals was from Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, Pope Francis’s birthplace. Arrivals from Europe showed a less marked increase, perhaps because pilgrims used other forms of transport to attend the festival.

Over half of the air travellers, 56%, have chosen to stay at the festival for 6-13 nights to hear masses by Pope Francis on the day he arrives, 28 July, and at the end of World Youth Day on 31 July.

A large number of visitors to the festival are planning travel on from Krakow to other European cities. More than a quarter of them, 26.7%, will visit Warsaw, 15.1% will go to Rome and 5.4% will travel to Prague.