Hello Kitty has come a long way since her humble beginnings as a sketch on notepads and diaries. She is so popular in China and Hong Kong that she was recently named "tourism ambassador". That means she will promote tourism to the two countries on behalf of the Japanese Government.

Hello Kitty first appeared on Sanrio stationary in 1974 as one of their 'cutesy' characters. She was created half Japanese and half English, because in those days' the Japanese people did not travel much and were fascinated by anything non-Japanese. Till today, this cute cat and her family "reside" in England, not Japan. She was also drawn without a mouth to indicate that she speaks a global language from her "heart".

Much to the surprise of her creators, the round-faced cartoon cat became a sensation among the young girls in Japan. Soon, her parent company started to make other "Hello Kitty" branded products. Today, the cat adorns over 50,000 products, which are sold in over 60 countries globally. They earn over $500 million U.S. Dollars annually for Hello Kitty's parent Company, Sanrio.

Needless to say, this cute cat is a star within her own company. The Sanrio website is dedicated mostly to her (www.sanriotown.com). She has a blog, a 3D Japanese Television Show and a Japanese theme park starring her and her friends. Also coming soon is a website dedicated to Hello Kitty Games.(www.hellokittyonline.com/us/).

Unlike most kid characters, Hello Kitty seems to appeal to both kids and adults, especially in China and Hong Kong, which is the reason Japan's officials picked her for the new role. They hope that she will attract more tourists to Japan, helping officials reach their goal of attracting over 10 million visitors to the country annually.

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