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Monday, November 15, 1999 Published at 16:07 GMT


How on earth do you lure little green tourists?

Martians over Bedlington?

Expecting visitors? Better do some dusting, comb your hair, mow the launchpad.

A former mining town in the north-east of England is taking the brave step of pitching for visitors from Mars.

The people of Bedlington in Northumberland, who are classed by some as Geordies, are branching out to advertise the town to the red planet thanks to Nasa.

Traders - including mechanics Tyred and Exhausted, burger shop Best Byte and funeral directors AJ Gascoigne & Son - are expected to get together to offer the aliens special deals.

How would you advertise your town? Click here to tell us.

[ image: Today the world, tomorrow Mars]
Today the world, tomorrow Mars
The town's chamber of trade organised the move by replying to a Nasa advert for material to be included on the Mars 2001 Lander expedition.

Chairman Malcolm Robinson said: "We'll offer any alien visitors a range of discounts, with pensioner rates for haircuts, and discounts on food and clothing.

"They won't get a warmer welcome anywhere in England."

[ image:  ]
But he added: "God knows if they'll understand our accents."

Click here to read your ideas on attracting alien tourists

Local trader Margaret Millen was in little doubt that, if the message is picked up on Mars, Bedlington would get a good reaction.

"It's a lovely little town, very friendly. It's really a country town, even though it's only 12 miles from Newcastle and fairly close to the industry," she said.

One notable chapter from the town's history was the production of iron rails by Michael Longridge. A friend of George Stevenson, the rails were used for the world's first passenger railway.

[ image: Bedlington town centre (Pictures courtesy]
Bedlington town centre (Pictures courtesy
Although the town is treating the Nasa venture light-heartedly, it is not a publicity shy place.

The chamber of trade's website directs potential customers to local businesses, and makes the most of a worldwide - particularly US - interest in Bedlington Terriers.

The site's webmaster writes: " was rather trying to minimise this, but there is simply no getting away from the fact that Bedlington is famous for its 'World Class' breed of dogs. If you search the Internet it is almost as if that is all it's famous for. Not so!"

[ image: Part of a greeting sent by Nasa on Pioneer 10 in 1973]
Part of a greeting sent by Nasa on Pioneer 10 in 1973
The news of the Nasa CD comes 25 years after the first deliberate radio message sent from Earth to the stars. In 1974, a three-minute message about the human race was sent from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.

Although the message has been travelling for a quarter of a century, it's still only one-thousandth of its way to its target stars, 147 trillion miles away.

In 1973, Nasa sent a plaque on its Pioneer 10 craft with simple greetings from humans, showing male and female form, and where earth is in relation to the Sun.

It is still waiting for an answer.

Click here to read your ideas on attracting alien tourists

How would you lure Martian tourists to your home town?

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