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Thanks for the help

Just what’s up with all those out of state tourists catching all my fish and killing all my elk? Why don’t we just tell them all to go home so we can have Paradise all to ourselves? Well, as you might expect, there are folks studying just those questions. The Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research of the University of Montana released a report on 2008 Montana Nonresident Economic Impacts & Expenditures. It turns out that those pilgrims have really deep pockets.  In 2008, non-resident visitors pumped over $4 billion into the Montana economy. They also generated $228 million in taxes that we residents don’t have to pay. Altogether, those folks forked over an average of $158 per day to enjoy the places we take for granted.

The outfitter and guide business alone in Montana provides our economy with $168 million, provides a living for 4,300 guides and 2,590 full time jobs. In 2007, nearly 11 million individuals visited Montana and their spending generated almost 45,000 jobs. Non-resident travel is the fifth largest employer in the state. Montana ranks 42nd in the U.S. for tourist spending, but 7th in the nation in per capita tourist spending. Although it’s dropped off a bit during the last couple of years due to the economic downturn, tourism continues to be a mainstay of our economy.

To those of you who don’t believe that it is important to preserve the pristine nature of our rivers and streams; Visitors who come to Montana to fish spend the longest length of time in the state and the most dollars per day of all groups. Fishing visitors spend $30 per day on outfitters and guides. That is 135% more than hunters spend. Fishermen represent only 4% of the non-resident visitors, but spend a disproportionate number of dollars. They spend $1,600 per trip and over $176 per day, which is more than any other category including hunters and park visitors.

So, even though you will still be annoyed the next time you see that car full of kids from Nebraska parked at your favorite fishing hole, you might take a minute to thank them for paying to help all of us to fund the preservation of resources that we don’t have to travel across the nation to enjoy. Without non-resident visitors helping with our conservation efforts, the burden would fall entirely on Montana residents and that would likely mean that fewer of our special places would be around today. Maybe sharing is a good thing.

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One Response

  1. Yep, I hear that the proud folks in and around Big Mountain … err, Whitefish Mountain Resort … really like what non-resident visitors have done to their special places.

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