Montana Tourism up in 2013 Despite National Park Shutdown
Even with a federal shutdown of the national parks, 2013 was actually a pretty good year for tourism in Montana.
"Visitation looks to be up about 2.5 percent," said Kara Grau, Assistant Director of Economic Analysis at the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research. "Visitors have spent more money this past year: spending is up about 6 percent. Of course, these are all preliminary estimates, but we're getting close to final numbers. So, yeah, things are looking pretty good."
Many feared that the federal shutdown of Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks would devastate the tourism industry, but the impact seems to be fairly limited in scope.
"It seems overall, if you're looking at the big picture, it didn't have too terrible of an effect on a lot of businesses, Grau said. "But certainly, those businesses that felt it, really felt it."
For 2014, the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research predicts that tourism will increase by about two to 2.5 percent, bringing more tourists dollars into the state than in recent years.