The Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau has opened in Tokyo its first full-time international office outside North America, delegates from the city announced Tuesday.

The office aims to promote Los Angeles as a tourist destination among Japanese and increase the number of Japanese visitors to the city by providing tourism information and forming close ties with Japanese travel agents.

“Our purpose of being here is to establish our first full-time presence here in Japan and first full-time presence outside the United States. Japan has consistently represented our No. 1 overseas market,” George Kirkland, president of the bureau, told a news conference.

The bureau places a strategic importance on Japan and expects to reap the highest returns on Los Angeles’ financial investment on travel-related products from Japanese visitors, Kirkland said.

Last year, the 848,000 or so Japanese tourists to Los Angeles accounted for about 22 percent of the city’s visitors from outside the U.S. and contributed 102 billion yen to the city’s economy, they said.

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