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Miami luring tourists from S. America

Miami Beach at night

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: The sour economy is hitting domestic travel, particularly tourism hotspots. Visits to South Florida, for one, were down in the first half of this year compared to last year. That's the first decline since 9/11. Now, a major travel show today in Miami Beach is looking further south to pick up the slack. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace's Dan Grech has the story.


Dan Grech: The three-day La Cumbre travel show hopes to draw in visitors from Latin America. Sales have been brisk for a Thanksgiving shopping package. Brazilians, Venezuelans and others board flights Thanksgiving Day, eat a turkey dinner that night, then pile into buses before dawn to hit the malls.

Alfredo Gonzalez is with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. He says a weak dollar and strong Latin American economies make the U.S. a bargain.

Alfredo Gonzalez: From Mexico to Argentina, the demand is incredible. It almost looks like there's not even an off season.

Foreign visits to South Florida increased 8 percent in the first half of the year -- the biggest gain in nearly a decade.

Gonzalez: The numbers are looking good. And we need something to rescue the situation with the downslide of the domestic market.

The most popular local destination for Latin Americans? Sawgrass Mills, an outlet mall an hour north of Miami.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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