A press release reminded us that 2017 was designated by the United Nations as the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development.” The UN World Tourism Organization has had a full calendar of events and conferences promoting the concepts and importance of sustainability.
What we hadn’t noticed was that giving a helping hand to the effort was none other than Hello Kitty, a fictional character the UNWTO named Special Ambassador of the International Year, through a deal with Hello Kitty’s producer Sanrio.
Sanrio's best-known character, Hello Kitty has been promoting the UNWTO campaign themed “Travel. Enjoy. Respect.”
“Travelling opens our minds and our hearts, and lets us see how we are equal,” the Hello Kitty character squeaks in a video launching the campaign.
After reading the press release and watching (part of) the video, we realized that while Hello Kitty is a familiar icon, we really didn’t know much about her.
According to Wikipedia, Hello Kitty is “a female anthropomorphic white Japanese Bobtail cat with a red bow and, notably, no mouth.” Created in 1974, the long-lived Kitty is now 43. And she’s in the height of her earning power – by 2014, when Hello Kitty turned 40, she was estimated to be earning about $7 billion a year.
The video is being shown at Japan’s Narita airport and can be viewed on thewebsite and social media channels of the International Year.