MISSOULA – Montana residents spent nearly $2.87 billion on trips within the state during 2017, according to a new report from the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana.
State residents collectively took 13.5 million
The highest percentage of all travel dollars were expended in the Glacier and Southwest Montana travel regions, as they represent 50 percent of all resident
“What is interesting is that the western part of the state receives the most dollars from residents traveling there, but Yellowstone County captures 13.2 percent of all resident travel spending, the highest of all counties,” said ITRR Director Norma Nickerson. “Billings accounts for 97 percent of the traveler dollars spent in that county.”
Missoula County, with 503,900 overnight trips and $153,976,000 in spending, is the next highest recipient county of resident travel dollars, followed by Gallatin and Lewis & Clark counties.
“Restaurant and bars make up the highest spending category in each county, outspending gasoline and lodging,” Nickerson said. “Apparently eating out and visiting local breweries is a great excuse to travel at least 50 miles from home.”
Results of the ITRR study show that residents’ county of origin to other counties reflects the Montana population. The most-populated counties – Yellowstone, Missoula, Cascade, Gallatin, Lewis & Clark and Flathead – represent the highest percent of visitation to all other counties.
The report looks in detail at the top six counties where residents spent overnights, which also are the most populated counties. If the top outdoor activities from each (scenic driving, day hiking
Yellowstone and Cascade counties show the highest percentage of their visitors enjoying recreational shopping, while special dining tops the other four counties.
Going to museums landed in the top eight activities for Gallatin County, viewing art exhibits was in the top eight for Lewis & Clark County, and motor boating emerged in Flathead County.
All six counties also had participation in going to local breweries, with Missoula County having the highest percentage of visitors who indicated a desire to taste the local brews.
Total travel industry spending in Montana was $6.23 billion in 2017. Of that, 54 percent was contributed by nonresidents and 46 percent by resident travel within the state. Nickerson said nonresidents provide
The ITRR study surveyed 10,795 Montanans ages 18 and older who were intercepted at gas stations and rest areas throughout the state during 2017 to assess overall trip types and numbers. An additional survey was completed by 1,341 residents who provided more detail into a specific trip within the past month.