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UM News
April 12, 2013


Recent research shows both the number of nonresident visitors to Montana and how much they spent in the state were higher in 2012 than any previous year.

Estimates produced by The University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research show that 10.8 million people visited Big Sky Country, an increase of 2 percent from 2011. Spending by those visitors increased about 15 percent from the year before, totaling $3.27 billion.

Money spent by nonresident travelers directly supports $2.6 billion in economic activity and nearly 30,000 Montana jobs. Nonresident travelers indirectly support an additional $1.6 billion of economic activity and 13,000 jobs. Associated with those travel-related jobs is $805 million in labor income directly attributable to nonresident travel and another $448 million indirectly attributable to nonresident spending.

The Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research produces these annual estimates based on data collected by a team of surveyors located across Montana.

“It’s interesting to see the changes over time,” said Kara Grau, ITRR assistant director of economic analysis. “It seems Montana has regained any ground lost during the recession in terms of statewide visitation and overall visitor spending.”

Grau said ITRR has surveyors collecting information year-round, allowing the institute to produce accurate and up-to-date estimates of how travel impacts Montana.

“It’s very important for the travel and recreation industry to have this kind of information updated on a regular basis,” she said. “We know conditions can change quickly, and current information is essential.”

All information and reports published by ITRR are available online at

“Everything we publish is freely available to the public,” ITRR Director Norma Nickerson said. “We have a lot of good information for anyone who is part of or interested in the travel and recreation industry. The website hosts a dynamic nonresident travel reporting system that is updated quarterly, so people can access exactly the kind of information that is useful to them.”

For more information about the 2012 nonresident visitation and spending estimates, visit The dynamic nonresident data reporting system can also be accessed directly at





Contact: Norma Nickerson, director, UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, 406-243-2328,