N.O. tourism industry hoping for Super Bowl return in 2018 - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

N.O. tourism industry hoping for Super Bowl return in 2018

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NEW ORLEANS - French Quarter carriage tour guide Benjamin Gilbert sees them daily: awestruck visitors.

"People come here and they experience a different culture. They come back and that's great for the city, which ultimately at the end of the day is good for us," he said.

Now, the city is positioning itself to try to bring back one of the biggest tourism events of them all - the Super Bowl. The NFL announced that New Orleans is a finalist to host the Super Bowl in 2018, along with Indianapolis and Minneapolis.

"It's such an honor, it's such a huge economic driver, but in terms of the perception value and the publicity value that we get all over the world, it's really priceless," said Kelly Schulz, Vice President of Communications for the N.O. Convention & Visitors Bureau.

However, when it comes to actual numbers, Schulz said this year's Super Bowl was a smashing success.

"We did a study with UNO, and it showed $480 million in economic impact, hundreds of thousands of hotel room nights," she said.

Businesses across the metro area cashed in, especially those in the center of the celebration like Cafe Pontalba on Jackson Square.

"It was an awesome week then, leading up to and after the Super Bowl," said the restaurant's manager, Mike Harrison.

Harrison feels good about the city's chances for landing another.

"With everything going on, I think it's an amazing time, and for us to be considered for that, and with the tri-centennial, it'll be great for the city," he said.

Schulz points out that hosting the big game this year sparked a series of improvements across the downtown area.

"We upgraded the Superdome. We had a massive renovation to the Convention Center with the Great Hall. We opened a new streetcar line. So, these were all things we did in preparation for the Super Bowl, but the locals get to benefit from it," Schulz said.

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