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Nov 15, 5:56 PM EST

Florida on pace for record tourism year



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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Florida is on pace to have a record year for tourism, Gov. Rick Scott said Friday.

About 22.9 million visitors came to Florida in the third quarter of 2013, which is an increase of 1.7 percent over the same period in 2012.

Gov. Rick Scott announced the tourism numbers during a news conference at Busch Gardens and said his goal is for the state to reach 100 million visitors. Scott, who is running for re-election, tied the rise in tourism to job creation.

"Tourism creates a whole bunch of jobs in our state," said Scott, adding that for every 85 visitors, one job is created.

Scott, who was joined by officials from Visit Florida and Visit Tampa Bay - the state and region's tourism marketing groups - said more visitors came to the state between July and September of this year than any other third quarter in the state's history.

Visitor spending in Florida between January and August 2013 was $51.8 billion, officials said.

There have been a total of 72.6 million visitors to the state through September.

Some of Florida's tourism growth is coming from overseas visitors. There were 2.9 million in the third quarter, representing a 10.1 percent increase over the same period in 2012.

"We've got the best tourism product in the world," he said.

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