Travelers contribute $1.2 billion to northwestern Montana economy

An analysis recently completed by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana highlights the economic contribution of nonresident travel spending in each of the six travel regions in Montana, as well as 17 of the state’s 56 counties.

Estimates showed nearly 11 million visitors spent approximately $3.9 billion in Montana in 2014, which directly supported $3.15 billion of economic activity and more than 38,000 Montana jobs. The analysis also showed tourists indirectly supported an additional $1.9 billion of economic activity and more than 15,000 jobs. Overall, travel directly delivered more than $1 billion in labor income to the state – and $557 million indirectly.

In northwest Montana’s Glacier Country, travelers spent $1.2 billion in 2014, supporting 12,400 jobs and $945 million of economic activity. Tourist spending supported an additional $627 million of economic activity and 5,200 jobs in the region. The research showed $320 million in labor income is directly attributable to nonresident spending, supplemented by an additional $177 million indirectly supported by travelers in Glacier Country.

Flathead, Glacier, Lincoln and Missoula counties were included in the analysis. Research showed $489 million of Flathead County’s economic activity was directly supported by the $668 million spent in the county, with an additional $319 million supported indirectly. The tourist dollars contributed to 6,800 jobs and more than $179 million in labor income, with an additional 2,700 jobs and $93 million in labor income indirectly supported in Flathead County.

In Glacier County, more than $62 million of economic activity was directly supported by $85 million of nonresident spending, contributing to 960 jobs and $26 million in labor income. An additional $17 million of economic activity, 150 jobs and $5 million in labor income were indirectly supported by travelers’ spending.

Spending by nonresidents in Lincoln County totaled $90 million, contributing to $40 million of economic activity, 620 jobs and $15 million in associated earnings. Tourists in Lincoln County also indirectly supported $19 million of economic activity, 160 jobs and $4 million in labor income.

Travelers spent $285 million in Missoula County, supporting $229 million of economic activity, 2,800 jobs and $76 million in labor income. The tourism dollars indirectly supported $160 million in economic activity, 1,300 jobs and more than $48 million in labor income in Missoula County.

The full report, including estimates of the economic contribution of nonresident travelers in the other five Montana travel regions and additional county-level estimates, is available on the ITRR website at http://scholarworks.umt.edu/itrr_pubs/315/