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‘Aliens’ deployed by vacation resort in bid to boost tourism

NASA is continuing to explore deep space for signs of alien life, but it appears it’s already here. Existing among us.

Creatures with large eyes, oversized heads, and weird bodies — which is of course exactly how aliens look — have been spotted in the Japanese prefecture of Oita, an area famous for hot springs about 500 miles south-west of Tokyo.

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The local government has even been posting videos of alien sightings in the area, with the visitors from outer space clearly making little effort to blend in …

宇宙ノオンセン県オオイタ 「宇宙から来た乗客」篇
宇宙ノオンセン県オオイタ 「吊り橋と宇宙人」篇
宇宙ノオンセン県オオイタ 「変なUFO、発見!」篇

Rather than a very early April Fools’ joke, this is actually an attempt by local officials to promote tourism in the area, The Mainichi reported. Believing aliens to be more of a draw than satellites, Oita officials recently launched the quirky campaign in a bid to boost tourist numbers.

The somewhat tenuous link between aliens and Oita comes from a partnership agreement with Virgin Orbit announced last month that could see the city’s airport used as a site for the company’s space missions.

Virgin Orbit uses a converted Boeing 747 fitted with a rocket capable of carrying small satellites to low-Earth orbit, and up to now has completed two successful missions using its system.

The use of a conventional aircraft means the service can launch and land at pretty much any airport with a long enough runway, and Oita officials are hoping to see Virgin Orbit flights begin there as early as next year once additional infrastructure has been put in place. Other locations vying for Virgin Orbit flights include Guam in the Western Pacific and Cornwall in the U.K., while the company’s current base at Mojave, California, also remains as a launch option.

As part of the effort, any arriving hotel guest who proclaims to staff at the front desk, “I am an alien from outer space,” will be rewarded with a bunch of freebies that they can enjoy during their stay. Prior to making the announcement, guests are strongly advised to confirm that it’s a participating hotel or they may be gently escorted to another kind of facility for the duration of their visit. And possibly longer.

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