Millions of mourners poured into Rome
following the death of Pope John Paul II, creating challenges for
hotels, airlines and other tourist services.
The city is
absolutely full with foreign tourists and pilgrims, said Marcel
Levy, general manager of the Hotel Eden, a Le Meridien hotel in
While the influx has
benefitted hotels and airlines, it has also complicated some
day-to-day operations. At Jolly Hotels, one of Italys largest
chains, Dorella Lazzarotto, director of sales and marketing,
reported that increased business has been offset somewhat by
Some companies that
had booked during this period are canceling because they are afraid
of the chaotic situation, Lazzarotto said from Milan. So there is
increased demand, but you have to take into account
president and owner of the upscale Bettoja chain, who spoke to
TravelWeekly.com a day before the popes funeral, said, We are
getting cancellations from people who call and say, Lets wait until
the city gets back to normal.
Because of the crowds
and tight security, Bettoja was anticipating that some of his
employees might not make it to work, but he said his hotels would
Tour operators also
report a spike in demand. Pilgrimage operator Regina Tours saw an
amazing increase in bookings, according to John Peters, executive
vice president of Group IST, Reginas parent company.
President Steve Perillo said bookings doubled over the weekend
compared with previous weeks.
clients book months ahead. I guess its just that were seeing 24/7
coverage of Rome, and Rome is sunny in all the pictures, Perillo
As for keeping their
groups moving in and out on schedule, operators remained
This isnt the high
season, said Central Holidays President Fred Berardo. It would be
far different if this was happening in the middle of
We have relationships
with the hotels, said Phillip Gordon, CEO of Globus. We have people
there now and others arriving in the next few days, and our rooms
But all operators
will have to find alternatives to visiting the Sistine Chapel in
the coming weeks because it will be closed to the public while the
cardinals gather to choose a new pope.
airlines added intra-Europe flights into Rome, none had increased
transatlantic service or capacity, and despite a rush on airline
tickets to Rome, agents reported they were generally able to get
At the Polonia Travel
Agency in Chicago, owner and manager Mary Koszela said she was
using all the European hub connections ... all the carriers,
whoever has space, adding that fares were surprisingly reasonable,
given the high demand.
Agent Paul Pachacz of
the Albatross Travel Agency in Brooklyn, N.Y., said some clients
were booking at higher, last-minute prices in order to arrive in
Rome in time for the April 8 funeral.
Sally Watkins, an
Italy specialist with Century Travel and Cruises, Austin, Texas,
said she will have clients in Rome one day after the conclave
begins, so she warned them that they wont see the Sistine
said, an acquaintance who is not a client was scheduled to fly
through Rome the morning of the funeral. Realizing that air space
would be restricted, she advised the traveler to ask for a
different routing. The airline obliged.
David Cogswell, Kenneth Kiesnoski and Nadine Godwin contributed to
this report. To contact the reporters, send e-mail to [email protected].