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Tourism Spending Up 4% In 2014

The number of out-of-state visitors to Montana was down slightly in 2014, but they spent 4% more while they were here than last year.

That’s according to the latest projection from the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research.

Director Norma Nickerson says they expect total non-resident visitor spending to come in at more than $3.9 billion in Montana when 2014 ends. She says December holiday spending is hard to track, but overall winter spending in 2013 was strong. 

"Last year was an excellent year" for winter tourism, thanks to abundant snow, Nikcerson said. "It’s going be tough for them to outdo what last year did for the ski resorts."

Nickerson says Montana tourism did well overall in 2014.

"It was a good year. Slightly fewer people, but more spending going on around the state."

Montana tourism numbers are in for 2014. Norma Nickerson compiles them for the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana.

Nickerson says spending was up throughout the year.

"In first quarter it was up four percent, 20 percent in the second quarter and nine percent in the 3rd quarter," she said. "Third quarter is where we get the majority of all the dollars dropped into the state. About 47 percent of all non-resident dollars come in that third quarter, which is July, August and September."

Nickerson says lower gas prices and increased consumer confidence point to an even stronger year for tourism spending in Montana in 2015.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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