Report on MT tourism shows fewer visitors, but more spending in 2018

Posted at 3:47 PM, Jan 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-16 18:19:02-05

MISSOULA – Even though fewer visitors came to Montana last year, a new research report by the University of Montana Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research states the tourists who did visit spent more money.

The numbers are still preliminary, and are contained in the Bureau’s latest report, which will be updated this spring. The initial results, however, show more than 12 million non-residents came to Montana spending nearly $3.7 billion.

While the total number of visitors was down about two percent this past season, the people who came spent more on everything from lodging to gas to entertainment with an increase of 10 percent.

The report shows non-resident visitors staying in the state up to five days in the summer, and even four days in the winter season. Gas, food, and accommodations account for the bulk of the spending. But outfitters, retail sales, and groceries were also high on the list.

When combined with indirect economic activity, the estimated non-resident visitor spending pumped $5.24 billion in Montana’s economy last year.

That supported nearly 43,000 direct jobs and a total of over 58,000 jobs in Montana last year.

-Reported by Dennis Bragg/MTN News

CORRECTION: We have updated the article to reflect that 12 million non-residents spent $3.7 billion, not $3.7 million. MTN News regrets the error.