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Report details impact of recreational tourism on Montana

Approximately 12.5 million people visit Montana yearly, spending about $5 billion
National Park Crowded Parking
Posted at 4:28 PM, Mar 30, 2023

MISSOULA - Tourism is continuing to grow in Montana.

The Montana Society of American Foresters met in Missoula on Thursday for their annual meeting where the Institute of Tourism and Recreation Research shared the data they've collected.

Approximately 12.5 million people visit Montana each year and when they are here, they spend about $5 billion. Additionally, there are almost 50,000 jobs supported by out-of-state tourism. The numbers also show that 47% of visitors come to Montana during the summertime and spend an average of five nights in the state.

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The Glacier Country Region and the area around Yellowstone National Park are the two biggest visitor attractions in the state with almost $3 billion being spent in those areas.

The Institute of Tourism and Recreation Research shared data on trends from both residents and nonresidents who use Montana's public lands. The Institute's Melissa Weddell explained why visitation plays such an important role for those in the forestry industry.

“It’s critical for our public land managers to understand visitation. During the pandemic, we had a visitation boom, and we had many people visiting our public lands. So, understanding what they did, where they visited, we know that 56% percent of repeat visitors went to new public lands. It’s critical for us to understand what they’re doing so we can educate and manage the lands.”

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Some 40% of travelers to Montana indicated that vacation, pleasure, and recreation were the main reasons that they visited the Treasure State. While they are here, they're rafting, fishing, hunting, going to breweries, guided tours, and checking out Montana’s amazing restaurants.

The full report from the University of Montana's Institute of Tourism and Recreation Research can be viewed here.