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Pope Francis: The Patron Saint of Tourism?

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Christ the Redeemer square in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Thursday, July 9, 2015. Celebrating his first Mass in Bolivia, Pope Francis is calling on the faithful to reject consumerism, which he says only creates barriers between people. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Christ the Redeemer square in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

(Yahoo) – Folks in Philadelphia still speak with pride about the time Pope John Paul II visited the city in 1979. Next month, a new pope, with an even higher profile (and certainly a much larger social media following), will once again bless the City of Brotherly Love with his presence, along with a formidable boost in tourism.

“We know Pope Francis attracts attention wherever he is, and this visit will touch the perception people have of Philadelphia,” said Meryl Levitz, the CEO of Visit Philadelphia. “In addition to being a religious figure, he is a world figure, so we expect tourism in the short term and long term to be affected by his visit.”

Call it a papal bump, if you will. Pope Francis has been a boon for tourism all over the world. In 2013, in the first nine months following his election, 6.6 million tourists visited the Vatican — almost three times as many as the 2.35 million who came the year before.

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