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Will Pope Francis' visit draw a big crowd? Hotel vacancies point to lower numbers than expected

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Hotel operators expected more bookings in Philadelphia.

Hotel owners across Philadelphia hoped Pope Francis' visit would become a major payday. However, as the pontiff's visit quickly approaches, a quarter of Philadelphia's 11,200 hotel rooms are still vacant for the time during his visit, according to Fortune.

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LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Over one million people are expected to arrive in Philadelphia for Pope Francis' events, including the World Meeting of Families, and the Papal Mass.

According to the New York Times, several hotel operators have cut prices, eliminated minimum stay requirements and offered extras to those who stay, like subway tokens and themed snacks, to entice people to stay with them.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter continues to expect that many people will decide last minute about attending and staying in hotels, and hopes that will translate into more bookings during the visit.

Washington D.C., however, is showing an increase in normal bookings, with one hotel claiming their bookings are up 20 percent for when the Pope will be in Washington. Many of Washington D.C. hotels are fully booked for that Wednesday night.

According to Elliot Ferguson, the president of Destination D.C., the increase in bookings are "normal for this time of year, regardless of whether the Pope is visiting."

Pope Francis will be staying on church properties during his visits, according to Fortune.

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