Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

This year was another strong year for tourism in Montana.

According to preliminary 2014 numbers gathered by the University of Montana Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, nearly 11 million nonresidents visited Montana and spent more than $3.9 billion.

Nonresident visitation appeared to be close to the same as 2013.

"In total, nonresident travelers spent more than $3.9 billion in Montana," UM ITTR Economic Analyst Kara Grau said. "These benefits ripple throughout the economy, supporting jobs and providing income, as well as contributing to taxes."

Although there wasn't an increase in nonresident visitation, many business owners benefited from the increased group traffic during the past year.

"In 2014 hotel rooms sold were up 6 percent through November and skier visits showed a 6 percent increase over the 2012-13 season," ITRR Director Norma Nickerson said. "The national parks in Montana have experienced an 8 percent increase over 2013 and the number of people stepping off a plane in Montana was up nearly 18 percent, through November."

About 68 percent of all tourism-related business owners reported an increase in visitation or customers in 2014, and 31 percent of those said they saw a significant visitor increase of more than 10 percent over 2013.

Only 10 percent reported seeing a decrease in customers. 57 percent of businesses expect to see their visitation increase in 2015.