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North Dakota native Josh Duhamel talks up state, promotes tourism

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The 2016 North Dakota Travel Guide and Hunting & Fishing Guide, featuring actor and Minot native Josh Duhamel on the respective covers, will be released today. Dustin Monke / Forum News Service5 / 8
Credit North Dakota Tourism. A behind the scenes photo from the North Dakota Tourism office campaign with Josh Duhamel to try and get people to visit North Dakota. Here he was on a hiking rip in the North Dakota Badlands.6 / 8
Credit North Dakota Tourism. A behind the scenes photo from a campaign with North Daktoa native and movie and television actor Josh Duhamel to try and get people to visit North Dakota. Here he arm wrestles in front of the Fargo Theater on Broadway in Fargo.7 / 8
Credit North Dakota Tourism. Behind the scenes photo from its campaign with North Dakota native and movie and television actor Josh Duhamel to try and get people to visit North Dakota. Here he's in the North Dakota Badlands.8 / 8

NEW YORK -- You'll be seeing quite a bit more of actor and North Dakota native Josh Duhamel, thanks to a new campaign North Dakota Tourism officials launched Thursday starring Duhamel promoting travel to the state he calls the nation's best-kept secret.

Duhamel, who was raised in Minot, appeared on NBC's "Today Show" Thursday morning to plug the campaign, which was shot in eight days last summer in locations across North Dakota. Duhamel said even he hasn't seen some of the tourist spots before.

In an interview after the show, he said he was surprised upon moving away from North Dakota that people just don't know much about the state.

Some people even told him they thought it was in Canada.

You'll be seeing quite a bit more of actor and North Dakota native Josh Duhamel, thanks to a new campaign. It's part of what inspired him to sign on to the project and become an ambassador for his home state.

"It's beautiful," Duhamel said of North Dakota. "It took me leaving and coming back home to appreciate it. ... My love of the state is for real."

The state launched its campaign in part to compete with next-door neighbors Montana and Minnesota, which overwhelmingly outspend North Dakota in tourism advertising and are in the same media markets, said Sara Otte Coleman, state Tourism Division director.

North Dakota is ranked 40th out of the 47 reporting states for advertising dollars spent on tourism, Otte Coleman said.

The state is committing $795,000 over the course of the campaign, which includes travel and production costs for the TV spots produced last summer featuring Duhamel. He signed on to the project at a cost of $475,000.

The "Today Show" appearance did not add to the cost of the campaign, tourism officials said.

Duhamel's appearance included clips that feature the actor in scenes from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Fort Mandan, and downtown Broadway, which are set to air in May.

He's also featured on the cover of the 2016 Travel Guide and its companion publication, the Hunting and Fishing Guide.

"The goal is a big return on investment," Otte Coleman said.

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