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Saturday, June 24, 2006

U.S. tries to lure tourists with Hollywood glitz


Staff writer

In an effort to get more Japanese to spend their tourist dollars in the United States, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer unveiled a new campaign Friday to encourage people to visit his country — with a little help from Hollywood.

The campaign spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Commerce will feature advertisements with scenes from such hit movies as "Chicago" and "Sweet Home Alabama" to entice sightseers to visit the country.

The campaign, with the tag "You've Seen the Films, Now Visit the Set," will run commercials on TV and in movie theaters from late June through early August.

"We want the Japanese tourists to come back to America," Schieffer said, at the promotion's launch at the U.S. Embassy. "Japanese tourists are great tourists."

The U.S. is trying to increase the number of Japanese visitors to the country.

In 2005, 3.9 million Japanese tourists visited the U.S., a 3.6 percent rise from 2004, but it has yet to recover the 4 million mark struck in 2001, the year of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Japanese spent $16.5 billion on travel and tourism-related services in 2005, the highest amount for a single country, the U.S. Department of Commerce said.

"The whole industry suffered from the tragic incidents of 9/11," Schieffer said, offering his assurances that "America is a fun and safe place to visit."

A similar campaign was held in Britain last summer. The Japan campaign is the first of its kind in Asia. Together, the two campaigns cost $9.8 million, Schieffer said.



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