WTM: Beckham to star in Visit California ad

California Tourism has enlisted the help of David Beckham for its latest advertising campaign, which hits the screens on December 1.

The football icon will appear kicking a ball into the ocean in an updated version of the ongoing campaign, in which various celebrities promote the laid-back Californian lifestyle.

“Beckham will help bring the message closer to the UK holidaymaker,” said Visit California senior director of international marketing Leona Reed. US chat show host Jay Leno will also appear in the advert.

California Tourism is also to launch a print campaign based around True Californians. People who live and work in the state – such as head of Surfrider Foundation Jim Moriarty, well-known climber Beth Rodden and founder of Pay Pal Elon Musk – will give tips on things to do in California.

Meanwhile, California Tourism is soft launching California Experts, an online training programme for agents, today (Thursday) at World Travel Market.

The programme, which will replace the existing Califonia Training College, consists of seven themed modules. “We know the best way for agents to learn is to visit California, but they can’t always do that. This allows them to get a ‘virtual’ feel for the California lifestyle,” said Reed.

UK visitor numbers to California suffered double-digit, year-on-year declines in the first four months of 2009, but improved in May and June with numbers down 8% and 5% respectively.

The destination is expecting a double-digit decrease in overall visitor numbers for 2009. Reed predicted a “bathtub shaped” recession with no real positive figures until 2012.

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