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Hello Kitty Named Japan's Tourism Ambassador

By: Expat Advisory Posted: May-20-2008 in
Hello Kitty
Expat Advisory

Japan will appoint its ubiquitous feline cartoon character Hello Kitty as a goodwill tourism ambassador in China and Hong Kong, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said Saturday. Hello Kitty is wildly popular in China and Hong Kong .

It will mark the first time a cartoon character has become a goodwill ambassador for Japan under the government's campaign launched in 2003 to promote visits to the country. Last year the number of tourists travelling to Japan hit a record of 8.35 million, up 60% since the government began marketing efforts in 2003.

Under its ''Visit Japan Campaign'' to attract foreign visitors, the government hopes to bring 10 million foreign tourists to Japan annually by 2010. In hope of achieving the goal, the ministry has so far appointed 11 people as goodwill tourism ambassadors.

Hello Kitty ''qualified'' for the job due to its popularity among Chinese people, ministry officials said. Designed in 1974 by Sanrio, Hello Kitty first appeared on a plastic coin purse. Her image today has become one of the most powerful brands in the world, adorning some 50,000 products in 60 countries.

A Hello Kitty blog will begin around late June on the Chinese language page of the VJC website to introduce tourist attractions in Japan, including historic and popular sites. The page will also provide news about shopping and dining.

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