Tourism industry addresses concerns of government shutdown’s impact on Montana’s economy

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 in Media, News & Archives | No Comments

Voices of Montana Tourism recently addressed concerns over the economic impact of the closures of our parks, wildlife refuges and other federal lands as a result of the goverment shutdown with the below letter to Montana’s congressional representatives. If you would like to share your feedback with Montana leaders, please contact Senator Baucus, Senator Tester and Congressman Daines.

 

Re: Federal government shutdown’s impact on tourism and Montana’s economy

Dear Gentlemen of Montana’s Congressional Delegation,

As proud members of Montana’s travel and tourism industry, we are writing to address our grave concern over the federal government’s shutdown and its impact on one of Montana’s leading industries.

As you well know, Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park are the cornerstones of Montana’s tourism economy. In 2012 alone, over 5.5 million visitors traveled to one or both of the parks and accounted for over half of the $3.2 billion spent in Montana by non-residents that year.

In Glacier Country and Yellowstone Country alone, the potential economic impact of closing the parks could range from $80 to $110 million per month just during the fourth quarter.

But, the parks’ closure is only part of the larger problem. All national wildlife refuges in Montana are closed, including the Charles M. Russell refuge, during prime hunting season. Fishing access sites on the Bighorn River and other federal lands are closed as well.

The shutdown will also have a huge economic impact on the outfitters and guides in Montana’s rural communities and on on the hotels, restaurants and grocery stores throughout the state that heavily depend on hunting and fishing patrons this time of year.

Hotels and other accommodations throughout the state are already receiving cancellations for October at an alarming rate. The impact of the federal government’s shutdown on our state cannot be over-stated.

Abruptly reducing travelers’ access to our federal lands will damage the Montana brand and hurt non-resident tourism – an industry that supports over 40,000 local jobs. It is important to stress that, unlike federal government employees, those Montanans who earn their livelihood from tourism and who are “furloughed” during the shutdown will not get paid for time lost.

We understand the present challenges you are facing in our nation’s capital but, hope you will take the necessary steps to ensure the federal lands so integral to our state’s economy are re-opened soon.

We ask you to please consider our concerns. Our industry has always been grateful for your leadership in Congress and now we are asking for decisive action before our state’s economy suffers irreparable damage.

Sincerely,

 

Sandi Johnson-Thares

President, Montana Lodging & Hospitality Association

General Manager & Owner, O’Haire Motor Inn

 

Mike Scholz

Co-chair, Voices of MT Tourism

Owner, Buck’s T-4 Lodge

 

Racene Friede

Co-chair, Voices of MT Tourism

Executive Director, Glacier Country