Spain uses top chef to revive tourism

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Spain on Thursday launched a new campaign featuring famed chef Ferran Adria in a bid to revive its crisis-battered tourism industry.

Tourism authorities launched their "I need Spain" campaign which they hope will be seen by 400 million people in 40 countries.

"The essence of the campaign is the Spanish lifestyle, which attracts more than 50 million tourists a year," the tourism ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the campaign is particularly aimed at markets that have traditionally been weak, such as China, India and the Middle East.

The ministry announced Adria, owner of renowned restaurant elBulli as a "tourism ambassador".

Spain last year suffered a 8.7 percent drop in foreign tourists due to the global slowdown, its second straight year of falling visitor numbers.

In 2008, Spain dropped from second to third among the world's most visited countries, behind top ranked France and the United States.

Spain is feeling the pinch from the drop in the pound sterling to near parity with the euro which has made it more expensive for British holidaymakers. The country has also suffered from increased competition in recent years from cheaper sunshine destinations in the Eastern Mediterranean like Turkey and Egypt.