In- state residents of Montana, traveling in the state have a significant impact on local economies in Montana – and none more so than Yellowstone County.
According to a recently released study by the University of Montana for the Institute for Tourism and Recreation, in- state travel by Montana residents has a $2.87 billion economic impact. Their survey of travelers regarding their travels in 2017, revealed that Montanans took 13,547,000 day trips spending $1,662,620,000 and 4,013,000 overnight trips spending $1,206,970,000.
The data was calculated based upon surveys conducted of about 900 Montanans during the first week of each month, by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research (ITRR), as they inquired about each respondent’s previous month’s travel 50 miles or more from home.
Montanans vacationing closer to home is part of an increasing national trend, called “staycations.” An introduction states, “While nonresidents play here and drop billions of dollars in our state as well, the contribution of residents traveling within Montana provides an impact simply because we stay local - our money stays in-state. In fact, a study of intrastate travel in New South Wales, Australia, found the greatest gains in gross state product and employment, were associated with an increase in intrastate tourism in which the additional expenditure replaces what would otherwise have been spent out of state.”
Among the findings of the study is that day trips represented more than three times the number of overnight trips, and subsequently more total dollars are spent due to day trips ($1.66 billion in day trips; $1.21 billion in overnight trips).
Business day trips and leisure overnight trips have the highest spending of all trip types. Business trips contribute $1.36 billion to travel spending. Leisure trips contribute $1.13 billion to the economy while other types of trips such as medical, shopping, and so forth, contribute $374 million.
Quarter 4 was the highest travel spending quarter for all types of day trips, while for overnight trips, business and leisure trip spending were highest in quarter 3, and other types of trips were highest in quarter 1.
The highest percent of all travel dollars were expended in two of the six designated tourism regions in Montana, Glacier and Southwest Montana. Those regions represent 50% of all resident day trips and 48% of all overnight travel dollars.
Yellowstone County receives the highest number of resident visitors in the state (12%) and captures 13.2 percent of all spending. Yellowstone County sees most of its in-state visitors coming from Cascade County, Gallatin County, Lewis & Clark County, and Missoula. Those visitors spent almost $158 million in the county. The primary reasons for coming were recreational shopping, scenic driving, sport events, camping, a family event, visiting historic sites, day hiking and hunting.