Montana News

Jan 15, 2013 4:26 PM by MTN News

Study details tourism impact on Montana economy

MISSOULA - A newly released University of Montana report details how the state's booming tourism industry is having a trickle down effect.

Recently released figures from the University of Montana's Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research found that nonresident travel spending directly or indirectly supported jobs in every industry sector in Montana.

Preliminary 2012 estimates show a 5.7% increase from 2011 in travel-generated employment, and that the nonresident travel industry in Montana makes up 6.2% of the state's total employment, making it the fifth largest employer in the Treasure State.

"These numbers show that the large dollar amount of $3.2 billion dropped in our state by nonresident visitors supplies many jobs beyond the typical travel job of hotels, restaurants, airlines and gas stations," said Norma Nickerson, ITRR director. "In fact, 17 percent of Montana's workforce has personal income that is partially or entirely due to travelers visiting our state. These are Montanan's working in positions such as finance, construction, agriculture, information technology and more."

"Since the travel industry is not one distinct industry, there are challenges in measuring its economic impact," said Kara Grau, assistant director of economic analysis at ITRR. "But economic modeling software allows us to estimate the ripple effect of nonresident spending among all the industry sectors it supports."

Nonresident spending also contributes to Montana's tax revenue, with 2012 numbers showing that 8.1% of Montana's state and local collections came from people from outside Montana, totaling $294 million in tax contributions.

Nonresident travelers contribute to the tax base through the payment of excise taxes on items such as gasoline and alcohol. They also support industries that pay corporate taxes and whose workers' pay income, property and other taxes.

The U.S. Travel Association estimates that tourist spending in Montana equals to $3,192 for every person living in the state, putting the state sixth in the nation for per capita spending by travelers.

Preliminary numbers showed that 10.8 million people traveled to Montana in 2012 and many places, including Glacier National Park, saw more tourists.

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