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Tourism Up In Chicago: 46.2 Million Visitors In 2012

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UPDATED: 6/11/2013 6:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — You are probably noticing more tourists around town.

There’s a good reason: The city hosted a near-record 46.2 million visitors last year, a more than 6 percent increase over 2011, according to Choose Chicago.

Overnight leisure travel accounted for a good deal of the increase, while business travel and the number of international visitors were also up.

The numbers are now back to levels not seen since before the economy collapsed in 2008.

The record for tourists: 46.3 million set in 2007.

The tourists translate into more revenue and new jobs for Chicago.

The most popular paid cultural attraction is the Shedd Aquarium, with the Oceanarium being the top exhibit there, CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports.

About 50 percent of the people who visit the Shedd are from out of town, and they generate about $125 million in economic activity for the city.

“The most attended aquarium in the country right here in Chicago,” said Roger Germann, executive vice-president of the Shedd.

Asked if he worries about negative media attention of Chicago violence, Germann said, “It is a very robust and dynamic city that the negative stuff does not outweigh the positives of coming to Chicago.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has set a goal of 50 million visitors each year by 2020.

Emanuel said today the city’s efforts to attract tourists is paying off.

“We are now marketing ourselves around the world and that drives the economy, it drives job creation and it’s good for the city,” said Emanuel.