Posted: Sep 27, 2012 4:36 AM by Tara Oster - MTN News
Updated: Sep 27, 2012 4:36 AM
KALISPELL, MT - Sometimes Montanans may prefer keeping the Treasure State all to ourselves, but tourists bring large amounts of money into our economy each year.
Industry leaders at a tourism roundtable in Kalispell touted the importance of those dollars: $3 billion last year.
Speakers at the Voices of Montana Tourism program said large numbers of tourists are enamored with Montana, and some decide to become residents. About 66 percent of these new residents are business owners.
"I am a classic example of that," said Luke Walrath, the Alpine Theater Project executive director. "And my company is a classic example of what happens when people visit this state as a tourist and then relocate to the state, love what our way of life is here and then want to add to that."
At the roundtable discussion, business owners talked about how out of state tourists especially help their business.
Swam Mountain Outfitters general manager Aubria Lorona said, "They don't have a home base here so they've gotta spend money on lodging and they've gotta spend more money on gas and gifts and meals and that kind of thing."
Flathead County businesspeople hope to bring in four "destination" events every year, like the Dragon Boat Races that drew thousands from around the country.
Though some Montanans resist the influx of new residents roundtable speakers said it's good for the economy and we need to increase our "tourism pie" and get a bigger slice of those tourist dollars.
"We provide experiences," Walrath said. "The great thing about that is that has a giant economic multiplier."
Positive experiences in Montana lead visitors to return and continue to funnel more tourism dollars into the economy.
One of the next big destination events planned for the Flathead is the Spartan Race, which will be held in Kalispell in May.