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Erika Owen
April 28, 2015

With the drop of her single ‘Welcome to New York’ country-turned-pop star Taylor Swift landed herself a rather unexpected gig: as tourism ambassador for New York City. Just hearing about this collaboration? The only thing you need to see right now is Swift’s guide to NYC vocabulary (spoiler: “Bodegas are our friends”).

Turns out she’s not the only familiar face boasting the tourism ambassador title. More recently, Tokyo brought on Godzilla to promote its biggest entertainment neighborhood. The most intriguing of celebrity tourism ambassadors, below:

Australia, 2016: Chris Hemsworth aka Thor

The country recently announced (on "Australia Day," of all days) a $40 million campaign—"There's Nothing Like Australia"—urging travelers to plan a trip their next trip to the "Land Down Under." Their star of choice couldn't be easier on the eyes: none other than Thor, ahem, Chris Hemsworth himself. 

Tokyo, Shinjuku Ward, 2015: Godzilla

The legendary monster was introduced to the area as a sign of prosperity—not the destruction for which it’s better known. A local belief is that any area that was demolished by Godzilla in the 1954 blockbuster is expected to prosper in real life. Combine this appointment with the recently unveiled Godzilla-themed rooms at the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku and the result is a tourism campaign that no true monster movie buff could resist.

Florida, 2015: Pitbull

This rapper may be known to many as Mr. Worldwide, but he actually hails from the Sunshine State. Pitbull—whose real name is Armando Christian Pérez—plans on filming his new video for Sexy Beaches on one of the state's sandy shores. He will also be promoting the hashtag #LoveFL on all of his concert screens around the world, so be on the lookout for that.

Indonesia, 2014: Richard Gere and Jackie Chan

Sometimes a celebrity vacation becomes the perfect press opportunity—at least in Richard Gere’s case. The celebrity Buddhist was given the honorary title, in the hopes that his enthusiasm for the country would spread to other Americans. The country also appointed Jackie Chan with the intent of bringing more Chinese travelers to the region.

Madrid, 2014: Arnold Schwarzenegger

This isn’t Schwarzenegger’s first go-around with the city—he filmed “Conan the Barbarian” in Madrid back in the 1980s. Aside from boosting tourism numbers, the “Terminator” star was given the honorary Tourism Ambassador title in a move to grab the attention of moviemakers.

South Korea, 2013: Psy, of Gangham Style Fame

Much like Swift and her New York City vocabulary, the Youtube sensation created a series of videos explaining popular Korean phrases while highlighting must-see destinations.

Malaysia, 2009: Jimmy Choo

There’s nothing like a bit of high-heeled inspiration to get travelers flocking to Choo’s home country. Aside from introducing travelers to all the country has to offer, he has plans to develop a shoemaking institute in Malaysia.

Barbados, 2011: Rihanna

It’s not news that Rihanna is proud of her Caribbean heritage. The pop singer signed a three-year contract with the island, in what might be the best-fit tourism ambassador collaboration in all of history.

Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.

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