[Updated] Guess What: World Youth Day Pumped Over $230,000,000 into Spain’s Economy

One of the most tiresome lies about World Youth Day is that it represents a significant financial drain on its host country. Anti-catholic dilettante Amanda Marcotte summed up this line of attack well when she wrote:

[Vatican officials] have to keep helping fund these $87-million (the estimated cost of the Pope’s event in Madrid) Pope excursions, you know.*

She later retracted:

This post originally stated that the Pope’s trip to Madrid would cost $87 million dollars; that is the estimated cost of staging the entire event. The post also suggested that World Youth Day is being funded through “the collection plate.” Organizers say that the costs—pegged in some other news sources at closer $72 million—are mostly being covered by pilgrims’ registration fees.

I dismantled the rest of Marcotte’s anti-Catholic rant here. The New York Times also echoed this meme in an article titled “Catholic Clergy Protest Pope’s Visit, And Its Price Tag.

But let’s get back to this mini-course in World Youth Day Economics 101…

This story suggests that a great deal of the WYD expenses (70-80%) were covered by donations from Catholic parishes and dioceses in Spain, and the remainder from corporate sponsorship (mostly Catholic organizations).

Furthermore, the two million pilgrims spent a great deal of their own money while in Spain. The head of Madrid’s chamber of commerce estimates that World Youth Day events brought at least 160 million euros (=230 million dollars) into the Spanish economy:

Pilgrims traveling to Madrid spent roughly that sum on transportation, food, lodging, recreation, and souvenirs, said Arturo Fernandez. His report counters complaints that World Youth Day put extra burdens on Spain’s depressed economy.

One civic association in Madrid reported selling 3 million meal tickets to WYD pilgrims, at a profit of €22.5 million ($32 million) for those transactions alone.

Frankly I think that estimate is still low — if the average pilgrim spent $300 while in Spain (that’s getting by pretty cheap) the total windfall to the Spanish economy would be over $600 million.

Plus, nearly all the reports I’ve read which comment on the question note that the pilgrims were particularly neat and tidy. Soccer hooligans trash cities, pilgrims respect them.

So Spain, you’re welcome. Two million tidy, paying customers.

Brazil should count itself lucky that it will be hosting the next World Youth Day in 2013. Hopefully that time around we won’t have to deal with ignoramuses who complain about the cost, when what they really hate is the message.

And maybe, just maybe, this little point about the true “cost” of World Youth Day will encourage the complainers to realize how unfairly they view the Church on other matters.

Rome Reports released a nice video showing visuals from WYD and mentioning the numbers:



27 thoughts on “[Updated] Guess What: World Youth Day Pumped Over $230,000,000 into Spain’s Economy

  1. […] WYD Pumped Over $230,000,000 into Spain’s Economy – Thomas Peters, Cth Vote/AmP […]

  2. Rose says:

    Maybe it makes me a bad Catholic but I gotta admit, I thought of a lot worse names than ignoramus when I read Ms. Marcotte’s spew of vitriol!

    Then I said a prayer for her. :)

    Thanks for posting these numbers, Thomas!

  3. Martin says:

    I see you revised the post instead of posting my comment. If you realized you were wrong for calling someone an “ignoramus”, the Christian thing would be to admit your mistake and apologize. I hope you do the right thing by publishing this comment and admitting you were wrong.

    1. Thomas Peters says:

      Martin – your previous comment didn’t even come through. What are you talking about?

      1. Martin says:

        I commented this morning regarding your use of the word “ignoramus” in your post. On my train ride into the City I saw that you had removed the word “ignoramus” and replaced it with the word “people”, but my comment wasn’t visible. Now the word “ignoramus” is back on the post a few minutes after my second comment is posted. (yes I checked the cached version of this page on my laptop and the word was definitely changed) This seems pretty shady and dishonest and not what I would expect from an organization that purports to be Catholic. Regardless, perhaps you could comment on your use of the word ignoramus. Do you feel like the Catholic faith calls on you to call people disrespectful names?

        1. Thomas Peters says:

          Martin – I haven’t made any changes to the post since I drafted it last night. Ignoramus is an accurate description of those who attack World Youth Day for “costing” the host country money. Accuracy is Catholic.

          1. Martin says:

            So you’re telling me I don’t know how to hit the submit button (or my post was magically lost in electronic transit) and that the cached version of this page that is on my laptop simply doesn’t exist? I’ll be happy to send you a screen shot of it. If you didn’t change it, who exactly did?

          2. Thomas Peters says:

            sure, send me your screen shot — my email is posted on the sidebar. I don’t quite see though why you’re making such a big deal out of this.

          3. Martin says:

            Well: 1, because I think your use of the term “ignoramus” is both childish and reflects poorly on Catholics in general. 2, because I think you are engaging in censorship and dishonesty while you are changing the posts and hoping that no one notices.

          4. Thomas Peters says:

            Martin, WordPress keeps a log of who edits posts. I just checked it and no one touched it since I finished drafting it at 1:15AM EST today. So I’m calling BS on your complaints. Move on.

          5. Catholic Geek says:

            Not true. Google cached a version at 9:42 am, a revised version at 11:15 am.

          6. Thomas Peters says:

            Again, show me the screenshot. If someone is editing my posts without my permission I’d sure like to know!

          7. Laura says:

            Jeez, CHILL! No one’s saying it got “magically lost” but a lot of times the comments do get lost, not by magic, they simply din’t show up.

    2. Amanda says:

      Martin, I read the post when it was a minute old and I don’t remember anywhere in the post that said ignoramus, I saw anti-catholic. Where in the post did you see this word? I would also not be to alarmed at not seeing a post many times I have posted something that never made it, I always assumed it was my internet (it isn’t very reliable) but it could be something with the site. Peace and Joy! Amanda

      1. Martin says:

        Evidently not bothering to read the article there Mandy. Second paragraph from the bottom, second sentence, eleventh word.

        1. Lori C says:

          I’d like to get back to the oroginal issue, which has yet to be addressed. It is simply uncharitable and unchristian to call someone an “ignoramus”. This is not something that I would expect from any Catholic, much less one claiming to be the “American Papist”

          1. Thomas Peters says:

            Lori C – I was originally going to write “intentionally ignorant”, but ignoramus seemed more concise. It’s not necessarily hurtful or uncharitable to say something that’s true.

          2. Lori C says:

            I don’t consider “ignoramus” to even be similar to “intentionally ignorant”, but I believe both are uncharitable. One is an insult that 8 year olds hurl at each other, one isn’t. I’m disappointed by the one you chose. That aside, given the controversy with the public funding of the Popes visit in the UK, I think it’s reasonable that people would be concerned about the possible use of public funds to put on an event that arguably primarily benefits Catholics. I don’t think calling these people ignorant is at all helpful or e even accurate. There seems to be general confusion regarding where the funding is coming from. Even your article gives ranges and doesn’t identify the “sponsors” that ponied up millions of dollars.

        2. Amanda says:

          Marty, thank you for pointing it out. The way you had your original post it sounded as though Thomas had already changed it without anyone the wiser. Peace and Joy! Amanda

    3. Rod says:

      Thomas, it appears as of late you’ve attracted quite a bit of trolls that only come here to give you a hard time. No matter what you post, your “dislikes” are always off the chart. It’s time to start ignoring these. The rest of us know you’re better than that.

      Vivat Jesus!

      1. Lori C says:

        I am not a “troll”, I am a real Catholic with real concerns.

      2. fRanKLin says:

        With good reason. Thomas’s version of the “truth” leads quite a bit to be desired. The official estimates coming from Madrid say around 1 million youth attended the event from out of town (not 2 million). The CITY PROVIDED HOUSING to the pilgrims by opening public schools and government buildings. The city also offered them reduced bus fares. The City will not release accounting, but estimates range from $72 – $143 million to the City. Registration fees were typically between $100 and $300 depending on the country you come from, with a number of “scholarships” given that reduced or eliminated fees. These fees covered not only the cost of the event, but the housing in public dorms, reduced bus fare, police overtime, special security, and event logistics including street closings and hotels and housing for event organizers. Given all these costs, it’s unclear that there is any possibility that the City could have covered their costs to stage the event from their fees. Given that 200,000 Madrid residents, including many Catholics, protested the event, I think dismissing their concerns without an open accounting is simply disrespectful.

  4. Scribbly says:

    I was wondering about the actual figures: thanks for putting them together for us.

  5. Luke says:

    Good article. Anti-Catholics usually do not like it when you introduduce facts into an argument.

    World youth day benefitted the local economy and quite frankly Spain needs more world youth days with the state of the economy at the moment.

    The anti-Catholics complained about the cost of the Pope’s visit to the UK which only cost about £10-20 million, which is the equivilant of only £3-4 per catholic in the UK, the average catholic tax payer pays a lot more than that in tax. It is also ironic is only during papal visits these people seem to care about public spending you don’t hear these people complaining about the billion spent on things like the EU or nuclear weapons. They are to large extent hypocrites.

  6. MichaelL says:

    Hi Thomas. As usual, thanks for this post. First, I want to say how much I have come to appreciate CatholicVote.org. Having said that, I want to tell you how disappointed I have been in these past few days with the very few posts here that even mentioned World Youth Day. How is this possible? Am I missing the whole point of CatholicVote.org? Thomas, you have demonstrated that you “get it”, but as for your fellow bloggers… :(

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Receive our updates via email.