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Report: Montana tourism returning to pre-pandemic levels

by UM News Service
| May 16, 2022 6:00 PM

MISSOULA – About 12.5 million nonresidents visited Montana in 2021 and spent around $5.15 billion in the Treasure State, according to estimates by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana.

The number of travelers visiting the state in 2021 increased 12.5% from 2020, bringing the number nearly back to the pre-pandemic visitation levels. This recovery performance far exceeded most of the nation.

Those 12.5 million travelers made up 5.6 million travel groups in Montana during the year. Nearly half of those travelers were here during the third quarter from July through September.

“Overall for 2021, slightly larger group sizes, longer lengths of stay and higher daily average spending per group resulted in the significant increase in spending compared to previous years,” said Jeremy Sage, ITRR interim director.

As is generally the case, money spent on fuel is the highest category, accounting for nearly a quarter of average daily spending for travel groups. Restaurant and bar spending and accommodations make up another third of the average daily travel budget for nonresidents.

Visitor spending during 2021 supported an estimated 47,800 jobs directly. Associated with those jobs is $1.3 billion of labor income directly supported by nonresident spending.

An additional $734 million of labor income is indirectly supported by nonresident travel spending. These travelers contributed more than $387 million in state and local taxes in 2021.

All information and reports published by ITRR are available online at


(UM News Service)