TACLOBAN CITY- The forthcoming visit of Pope Francis to Leyte will be good for its tourism industry with expected millions of people who will come to see the Holy Father.

And this early, still five months before the slated visit of Francis, hotels based in Tacloban are now full of requests for bookings, Ruby Balanyanto, city operations officer of the Tacloban City Tourism Office (CTO), said.

“His visit will help us boost our tourism industry aside from the fact that it will be a (spiritually) uplifting experience,” the tourism officer said.

With the heavy influx of visitors who are expected to descent Tacloban, where the hotels, they are now doing mulling of asking owners of boarding houses to accommodate visitors for the papal visit.

The CTO office has registered about 47 hotels now operating Tacloban, considered the ground zero of Supertyphoon Yolanda, the strongest typhoon to make landfall.

The number of hotels is not enough to accommodate the expected millions of people who will come to see the Holy Father who is slated to visit the country on January 15 to 19, 2015.

“WE are now doing some coordination with the owners of boarding houses in Tacloban if they could accommodate the visitors who are expected to come to the city during the papal visit.

There are more than 200 boarding houses in Tacloban but several of them have are still under repair after sustaining damages during the onslaught of Yolanda.

Private homes are also expected to accommodate the visitors during the papal visit, the first ever for Eastern Visayas still reeling from the aftermath of Yolanda.

At present, the archdiocese of Palo has yet to announce where the Pope will hold his Mass but aside from the government center located in Palo, considered the seat of Catholicism in the region where the archbishops resides, a paved area near the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban is also being considered as possible site.

Pinky Cinco, manager of the Leyte Park hotel, said that they are readying for the papal visit and has received several inquiries for room accommodations from abroad.

She said that aside from their present 86 rooms and six villas, they are planning to convert its function rooms and six dorms where they would put beddings with comfort rooms available for the tourists.

“We are getting inquiries from the States. Some of them are from Tacloban who will come here not only for the papal visit but also to visit the city after Yolanda,” Cinco said.