In case you were wondering how much tourism means to the state of Montana in jobs and revenue, the numbers just released for 2013 should convince you.

The University of Montana Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research has finalized the numbers for 2013. More than 11 million non-residents visited Montana, and while they were here, they spent about $3.6 billion dollars. That's billion, with a "b".

Assistant Director for Economic Analysis Kara Grau said on Wednesday, March 12, that there was a slight increase in the number of non-resident visitors to Montana in 2013.

"Visitation was up about 2.3 percent over 2012, and they're continuing to increase what they're spending when they visit the state," Grau said. "$3.6 billion was the total of what they spent while in Montana in 2013."

Grau said the money was spent on what people need to enjoy the state; gas, food and lodging.

"Of course, since they're traveling and Montana is a big state, they spent a lot on gas and diesel fuel to see all those places they want to see," Grau said. "They're spending a fair amount on retail, as well, likewise with restaurant and bar purchases that also top the list of what they're spending money on while they're here. There's also some gambling and people also spend quite a bit at the local farmers markets throughout the state."

Grau said all that money translates into jobs for Montanans.

"A lot of the jobs that non-resident travel contribute to are in the leisure and hospitality sectors," Grau said. "They're also taking advantage of the outfitters and guides in the state. One thing that our informal surveys have found is that out-of-state visitors really enjoy Made in Montana items and grown-in-Montana foods. They like to visit the state's breweries, and wineries and things along those lines. Anything that local businesses can do to continue offering locally produced items is definitely a good thing."

Assistant Director for Economic Analysis Kara Grau

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