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Winter Tourism Is Big Bucks For South Florida

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MIAMI (CBS4) -From the catwalk to the box office, South Florida has international appeal. And the proof is in the numbers.

Last year, 12.6 million visitors spent 18.8 billion dollars in Miami-Dade County, a record year for tourism.

“We’re now a very sophisticated, upscale destination , a global community just like London, just like Paris,” says Bill Talbert director of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.

An international destination where this week some of the world’s best designers are in town for Miami Beach International Fashion Week, now in it’s 13th year. Founder and event producer Beth Sobol says the crowds are getting larger and larger.

“We’ve put Miami on the fashion map, the world calendar,” said Sobol.

And South Florida’s calendar is always full now a days, from hosting the Super Bowl, the Pro-Bowl, The Winter Music Festival to Art Basel.

“There was a time this town closed down during the summer not anymore,” said Talbert.

In addition he said, “We had a record third quarter this summer, had more visitors then we’ve ever had in the entire history of Miami.”

Visitors how spent lots of money, creating jobs in a tough economy.

“We project increases to continue,” Talbert said.

And with a long list of things to do and to see, the hardest part for visitors is deciding where to start.

“I just arrived in town today, I’m hearing about all the different things, not sure what part we’re going to do,” said Julie Scott-Beeney from Pennsylvania.

The Miami Beach International Fashion Week runs through Sunday at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

In Fort Lauderdale, the numbers are just as impressive.

In 2010, 10.84 million people visited, and they spent well over eight billion dollars.

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