An advertising agency working for one of the world's largest airlines is in Utah producing Japanese television commercials and ads that state officials estimate are worth about $1.7 million.

Meanwhile, representatives of a Taiwanese firm visited the Wasatch Front last weekend trying to decide which of three sites they may buy for a computer components plant.And Gov. Norm Bangerter is making final arrangements for an April trip to Japan, Korea and Taiwan to visit several companies interested in coming to Utah.

Although state officials are reluctant to talk about it, saying they don't want to jeopardize deals, Utah's economic-development efforts seem to have taken a decided turn to the Far East.

State officials are particularly thrilled about Air Nippon Airways' recent decision to promote Utah skiing to its Japanese customers. The airline recently began flying to the United States, and it chose the Wasatch Front as the place to send Japanese skiers.

Since last fall, Air Nippon has been flying skiers to Los Angeles, where they have been boarding Delta Airlines jets to Salt Lake City.

"They've taken all their people to ski resorts in Japan in the past," said Wendy Haight, state travel marketing analyst. When they gained access to U.S. shores, airline officials started looking for North American ski resorts to attract customers.

"They looked at Colorado and Lake Tahoe as well but decided on us mainly because of logistics," Haight said. Utah was the only state with ski resorts near a major airport.

Airline officials hired Dentsu, an ad agency, to film commercials in Utah this week. Crews filmed not only ski resorts, but parts of Salt Lake City as well. The airlines wants to show Salt Lake City has more to offer than skiing.

"During after-skiing hours people have been a little bored," Haight said. "Dentsu is trying to focus on the other activities here, such as shopping. They're trying to show that you can get a drink here."

Haight said the airline may soon begin bringing tourists to Utah in the summer as well. To the Japanese, a flight to a golf course in Utah could actually be cheaper than a round of golf in Japan, where greens fees of-ten run into the hundreds of dollars.

Airline representatives said Japanese skiers get the royal treatment in Utah. As well as a full-time Utah staff of Japanese executives, Air Nippon has hired local residents who speak Japanese to meet the skiers at the airport, check them into hotel rooms and answer any questions.

Christopher Holmes, who served a Japanese mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has returned twice to study at Japanese schools, works at an Air Nippon courtesy booth at the Marriott Hotel.

"We haven't had any trouble satisfying them," he said.

Holmes admits some Japanese have complained about a lack of night life in Utah.

State officials still are tight-lipped about the Taiwanese firm a Utah Valley economic development official said last week had decided to open a plant on the Wasatch Front.