Montana visitor spending increases in 2018

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Approximately 12.2 million nonresidents visited Montana in 2018 and spent nearly $3.7 billion in the Treasure State, according to preliminary estimates by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana.

The number of travelers visiting the state in 2018 appears to have decreased slightly, down 2 percent from 2017. Despite the slightly lower number of individual travelers, those who did travel to the state spent more per day on average. The net result is around 10 percent increase in total spending over 2017.

Visitor spending during 2018 supported an estimated 42,700 jobs directly and over 58,000 jobs in total. Associated with those jobs is over $1.1 billion of labor income directly supported by nonresident spending. An additional $622 million of labor income is indirectly supported by what nonresidents spend while traveling in the state. Nonresidents contributed more than $227 million in state and local taxes in 2018.

Gasoline and diesel are the highest contributing categories, with travelers spending almost $850 million, or 23 percent of the total. Next among the expenditures are restaurants and bars, with $660 million (18 percent) and hotels come in third at $438 million (12 percent).

These figures will be updated this spring, with the most recent fourth quarter data from 2018 replacing the 2017 fourth quarter data used in these early estimates. This preliminary report can be found at itrr.umt.edu

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