BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — With bone-numbing temperatures barely breaking into the single digits, North Dakota's tourism department launched its annual advertising campaign Tuesday highlighting the state's scenery, culture and adventures.
Among the least-visited states in the nation and one that has long battled the perception of a bleak, wind-swept wasteland, North Dakota has enlisted the help of Hollywood actor and Minot native Josh Duhamel to help lure visitors to the state better known for its oil boom than as a tourist destination.
State Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman said Duhamel is providing the voice for a series of tourism advertisements for North Dakota. Otte Coleman made the announcement Tuesday at a banquet hall partially owned by Duhamel. The actor wasn't present.
"Josh has never been shy about sharing his pride in the state," Otte Coleman told state officials, including Gov. Jack Dalrymple, at the huge facility that was once a bakery in downtown Bismarck.
Duhamel is providing narration for six TV ads promoting the state's outdoor activities and its history. He's being paid $6,600 per spot and the narrations were done from his home in California, Otte Coleman said.
The $2.5 million advertising campaign this year is part of the North Dakota Legendary brand that was established in 2002 to help create more awareness of the state and what it has to offer, Otte Coleman said. The marketing campaign features new television and print ads as well as new travel and hunting guides.
North Dakota tourism officials will continue to gear marketing campaigns toward audiences in the neighboring states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Montana, as well as the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Otte Coleman said.
Dalrymple, who called North Dakota "a premier tourist destination," said tourism is North Dakota's third-largest industry, behind energy and agriculture. The visitor industry provides about 33,000 jobs in the state, he said.
The governor said the 2012 advertising campaign produced more than 1.4 million trips to North Dakota, $231.6 million in visitor spending and $17.8 million in tax revenue.
Otte Coleman said data for 2013 is not yet available but the industry was hurt by the temporary closure of Theodore Roosevelt National Park because of the federal government shutdown. The park in western North Dakota's badlands is the state's No. 1 tourist destination, she said.
Follow James MacPherson on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/macphersonja