.- World Youth Day 2008 organizers have officially opened group registrations for the international Catholic youth event, to be held in Sydney, Australia, next July 15 to 20.
Group registrations opened officially on March 2nd, with still 500 days to until the start of WYD. Registration for individuals will open mid-year. Organizers are expecting 500,000 pilgrims.
"We are opening group registrations online now - earlier than is normal for World Youth Days - to capture information on expected numbers, language groups and special needs,” said WYD 2008 coordinator, Bishop Anthony Fisher, OP.
"This will enable us to plan early and match groups to accommodation and catechesis sites throughout Greater Sydney," he said, adding that most pilgrims come as members of diocesan pilgrim groups, religious movements and youth groups.
Furthermore, the Australian government is offering all WYD pilgrims a free three-month standard visa in an effort to promote tourism throughout the country.
A new DVD, titled Sydney: Witness the Spirit, about WYD and Australian tourism sites will be available online. The DVD includes personal invitations from the archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, and Bishop Fisher.
Registration information is on the website (www.wyd2008.org) in English, Italian, Spanish, and French.