The party's over ... and what a party is was for the our community! Super Bowl XXXVII was a tremendous success for San Diego in so many ways. But the fact remains that we could never have created this dazzling experience for our visitors without the cooperation and commitment of the entire San Diego community working together toward this common goal.
The last of our Super Bowl visitors are heading back home, no doubt ready to give glowing reports about the incredible hospitality and service they received from the friendly San Diegans they met along the way. Our goal as the host city was to provide service above and beyond the expected, and glowing reviews of how our visitor industry employees delivered this sort of WOW experience for our Super Bowl guests are still coming in.
Speaking of WOW, our thanks go first and foremost to the tens of thousands of visitor industry employees who embraced this concept, going above and beyond the call of duty to make Super Bowl guests feel special. First impressions are the most lasting, and are what visitors remember most about their vacation experience. Thanks to our tourism ambassadors, we know that our Super Bowl guests will remember their stay here with pleasure -- and think of us again the next time they begin to plan a family vacation, convention or business trip.
As with the production of any great event, the behind-the-scenes efforts are critical to its success but often go unnoticed. Needless to say, our thanks go to the many San Diego businesses, civic organizations and government entities that came together with unbelievable synergy to create a dazzling week-long extravaganza. For more than a year, the Super Bowl Host Committee worked closely with the NFL, the city and Port of San Diego, and numerous other organizations, on every aspect of planning an event of this magnitude, the details of which are truly too numerous to mention. But every detail did have to be addressed, planned and executed, culminating in a stellar event of international status.
It was this same San Diego spirit of cooperation -- the coming together of our community to work toward a common goal -- that made events such as the 1998 Super Bowl and the 1996 Republican National Convention resoundingly successful.
San Diego gave its communal heart to hosting this year's Super Bowl and was also rewarded in return with benefits that will have long-reaching effects for our community. We've spoken before of the significant impact the Super Bowl will have on our local economy. Preliminary estimates indicate that our Super Bowl visitors will have contributed well over $125 million in direct spending to our region while they were here enjoying the pre-game activities and Sunday's game.
Furthermore, the publicity our region received from national and international media is truly worth its weight in gold. When we say the eyes of the world were on San Diego last week, we weren't exaggerating! Over half of the people in the United States tuned in to watch the game. Worldwide, some 800 million television viewers in nearly 200 countries viewed the game -- in more than a dozen different languages! You can imagine what an impact the beautiful scenes of our sun-drenched region made on these viewers -- especially in the dead of winter, when most of the East coast and Midwest was experiencing snow blizzards and frigid temperatures!
This type of exposure immediately precipitates a frenzy of phone calls to our International Visitor Information Center (IVIC) in Horton Plaza and online visits to our Web site at www.sandiego.org, as prospective vacationers from around the world are inspired to request visitor information about our region. Thanks to the Super Bowl, San Diego will enjoy top-of-mind awareness among potential visitors as they begin to think about where they will spend their next vacation.
In addition to these obvious economic benefits, the Super Bowl brought much more than football to our community. It will have also touched the lives of countless San Diegans in a variety of ways. Throughout the week preceding the game, the NFL reached out to more than 40 local charities, providing lasting legacies for so many of our residents.
For National City residents Eduardo and Aida Diaz and their two sons, Super Bowl will have brought them a cherished home of their own. As part of a community outreach program with Habitat for Humanity, National Football League players joined forces to construct a home for the couple during Super Bowl week. In addition, two other homes were completely refurbished as part of the NFL's Rebuilding Together project.
Thanks to the Super Bowl, our community's underprivileged youth will be served for years to come. The NFL Youth Education Town (YET) initiative in San Diego received $2 million ($1 million from the NFL and $1 million in local donations) to refurbish the existing YET center in Golden Hill and to construct an additional facility in City Heights for at-risk children. These facilities provide youth ages 12-17 with a computer lab, classrooms, counseling offices, a recreation room, and year-round weekend and overnight outings.
The NFL reached out to the Latino community in San Diego and Tijuana through its first-ever Super Bowl Latino Leadership Initiative, which focused on education and leadership opportunities for Latinos by providing a series of workshops and seminars, youth football clinics, scholarships and ongoing financial support. The NFL also made significant monetary donations to Esperanza International, a humanitarian organization in Tijuana, and provided $50,000 in scholarships for San Diego's Latino students.
And this is just the tip of the charitable iceberg. Proceeds from dozens of NFL festivities, golf tournaments and benefits held during Super Bowl week will provide assistance to local homeless shelters, Boys & Girls Clubs, youth development programs, food banks, schools and a myriad of other charities and organizations throughout San Diego county.
Like any happy host after a successful party, San Diego should feel proud and satisfied that our hard work and planning -- coupled with our warm hospitality -- paid off in Super satisfied guests! On behalf of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, I would like to thank our entire community for making Super Bowl XXXVII an event that will go down in history as one of San Diego's premiere hosting achievements.
Reinders is president and CEO of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.