Countdown Calendar Taps Youth Day Excitement

And Officer Reports WYD Will Boost Spain's Economy

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MADRID, Spain, JUNE 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- "Getting excited" and "Can't wait" are comments to a new World Youth Day countdown calendar that is noting 66 days and a number of hours and seconds before the official begin of Benedict XVI's meeting with youth.

The calendar -- launched by the World Youth Day social networking site Xt3 -- will begin Sunday to offer items for pilgrims in the last legs of preparation.

Meanwhile, the chief financial officer of WYD, Fernando Giménez Barriocanal, reported that the Aug. 16-21 meeting with the Pope will imply "zero cost to the taxpayer and an over $100 million economic boost for Spain."

World Youth Days are self-financed through pilgrim registrations and sponsors. And Spain has offered support by giving sponsors a tax break.

Giménez Barriocanal spoke of austerity and transparency in the financial management of the event.

The organizers are seeking innovations to keep costs low. More than 1,600 restaurants in Madrid will participate in the food program that will feed 400,000 young people, for example. Juan Carlos Jaureguízar, director of Meal Support, noted that "this will allow many of the small businesses throughout the city to participate in the benefits that will be generated."

Nearly 100 companies have joined the WYD sponsorship program. "These companies support WYD by providing in-kind services or participating in the patronage program provided by law," explained Barriocanal Giménez. Several media outlets are helping to offer air time to advertise, for example. This has enabled WYD to save more than €2 million ($2.9 million).

Final calls

Organizers are making final efforts to increase registrations, especially from Spanish youngsters.

One motive for these efforts is to bulk up the Solidarity Fund, through which registrations from developed nations go to support would-be pilgrims from poorer countries.

The team has produced a new 45-second video teaser titled "Get on," which notes that some opportunities only come once in a lifetime.