Utah, Wyoming and Montana will band together to help bring more big-spending Japanese tourists to the Mountain West, according to the director of the Utah International Development Office.

"We're trying to bring about some name recognition among Japanese tourists to bring them out here," said Osamu Hoshino.He said the three states are working together to try to lure more Japanese tourists to tour the area via U.S. 89, which traverses the three states and links seven national parks.

The promotional program, called "Travel 89 in '89," will kick off May 28 with a weeklong a trip to Tokyo and Osaka by a tri-state, 50-member delegation. Hoshino said the group will meet with Japanese travel agencies to educate and encourage them to include U.S. 89 in their tour packages.

Hoshino said the idea, initiated two years ago by his office, is to focus on Japanese tourists the most lucrative and fastest-growing market although he said the promotional materials could be used elsewhere.

He said his office has budgeted about $25,000 for the project this year, but the allocation will jump to as much as $60,000 next year. He said the project is cost-effective because it is a cooperative venture with Japanese and American airlines and with owners of local hotels and resorts.