Record numbers of tourists are visiting Florida this year, boosting their spending and creating jobs, state and local officials said at a press conference this morning.

Through the first three quarters of this year, an estimated 72.6 million people visited the Sunshine State, up by 3.6 percent from the same three quarters last year, according to Visit Florida statistics. It marks a new record for a nine-month period in Florida, Visit Florida said in a news release.

Gov. Rick Scott and a host of state and local officials hailed the tourism figures during a press conference at Busch Gardens in Tampa this morning. Unlike other visits by the governor, in which he often announces a corporate expansion or signs a new piece of legislation, his visit Friday came with no major announcements.

Rather, the visit was prompted by the state’s strong third-quarter tourism numbers, a Scott spokeswoman said. According to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing entity, 22.9 visitors came to the state from July to September. That was an overall increase of 1.7 percent over the same period of 2012.

The number of out-of-state Americans who visited in the third quarter rose only slightly to 19.5 million, up just 0.5 percent over last year. However, an estimated 2.9 million overseas visitors visited in the third quarter, up a stronger 10.1 percent, Visit Florida said.

(c)2013 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

Photo Credit: Florida visitors ride the Cheetah Hut roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida. Jeremy Thompson / Flickr