Guest view: We’re lucky to live in a popular destination for tourists

Posted on May 11, 2018 in Latest News | No Comments

Guest view: We’re lucky to live in a popular destination for tourists

May 6-12, 2018 marks the 35th anniversary of the 1983 congressional resolution that established National Travel and Tourism Week. This is a week to reflect on the contributions and accomplishments of the travel community and celebrate the value travel holds for our economy, businesses and personal well-being.

In Montana, with successful promotions attracting 12.4 million non-resident visitors, most who arrive during the summer months, it can be easy to get hung up on the inconveniences created with more people on the roads, lined up in stores or in the places we like to eat.

I believe National Travel and Tourism Week is a great time to reflect on the positive impacts the visitor economy brings to Montana.

Tourism fuels Montana’s economy as non-resident visitors spent $3.4 billion in 2017 according to the Institute of Tourism & Recreation Research. Those dollars are spent on guides, outfitters, restaurants, retail, farmer’s markets and hotels that helps Montana’s small businesses and main streets.

Tourism creates jobs, according to ITRR, visitors supported 53,000 jobs with $1.35 billion in salaries directly related to tourism industry jobs. Those dollars that were injected into Montana’s economy from visitors will circulate in our communities many times over.

Tourism lowers the tax burden on all Montanans, in the past seven years over $161 million has been deposited to the state general fund from lodging taxes alone. Tourism lowers taxes $491 for each Montana household.

Tourism improves Montanans access to other places with growing air service that includes new non-stop cities, large aircraft and even new airlines. The foundation for continued expansion of Montana’s economy across many sectors including high tech, healthcare and manufacturing relies on reliable air access. Since 1987 when Montana’s tourism industry began to grow, airline enplanements have more than doubled to nearly 2,000,000 per year.

Tourism supports communities to promote and preserve the qualities that make Montana a great place to live, work and play. Travelers add to the lifestyle many Montanans enjoy by supporting more restaurants, shops and special events. What we enjoy now is far more than what the state’s population could support on its own.

I’m proud to live in a state that is a desirable place for others to visit. I feel lucky about that. Sure, I may wait in line a little longer this summer, but I’m going to thank and welcome that visitor, because they are making Montana better.

Dax Schieffer is director of voices for Montana Tourism.


Agritourism Manual Now Available

Posted on Apr 29, 2018 in Latest News | No Comments

AERO is thrilled to announce the release of Montana’s first guide to agritourism, Developing Montana’s Agritourism: A Resource ManualThe Manual was developed by AERO staff with the support of the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program, and the Agritourism Working Group of the Montana Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, MSU Extension, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Food and Ag Development Center Network, and the Montana Farmers Union. The manual is designed to help farmers and ranchers decide whether or not they want to pursue agritourism as an additional product offering within their current operation. We aim to connect farmers and ranchers with basic information on how to start their own agritourism business through the process of building a business plan, listing important contacts and resources, and inspiring them by sharing existing agritourism successes around the state. Check it out here.

Agritourism is young in the state of Montana; practices, policy, definitions, and legal guidelines are in their early stages, and will develop and change as the state explores this unique form of tourism. If you have questions, concerns, comments, success stories or examples, etc., related to the content of this manual, please contact us at

Voices Featured Speaker for Kalispell Chamber Luncheon – May 15, 2018

Posted on Apr 21, 2018 in Uncategorized, Upcoming Events | No Comments


Tourism Defined, we will explore all of the ways the visitor economy provides economic value for the Flathead Valley.


See more here.

Gov Conference on Tourism & Recreation April 14-16, 2019 – Butte

Posted on Feb 10, 2018 in Upcoming Events | No Comments

Welcome – Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Recreation, the premier event supporting Montana’s leading industry.


The Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Recreation is the annual gathering of Montana’s tourism and recreation industry.

The 2019 conference will be in Butte, America April 14-16, 2019

For general questions, click here to contact us.

Flathead Business Education Roundtable – Kalispell Sept. 11

Posted on Jan 27, 2018 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Register Here

Date and Time

Tue, September 11, 2018

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM MDT

Add to Calendar


Hilton Garden Inn

1840 Highway 93 South

Kalispell, MT 59901


You are cordially invited to a lunch forum to discuss and learn more about our state’s tourism industry with Glacier Country and Flathead Valley businesses and leaders.

Lunch service will begin promptly at 12:00 p.m.

Why you should attend: Because policy decisions affect our state’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry and it is important to be informed of the facts around the value of tourism for all Montana families. Many industries directly and indirectly benefit from a healthy and strong tourism industry. Your attendance lets you hear from people in your community on the importance of tourism and for you to share your thoughts on solutions for all Montanans.

This event sponsored in part by:
– Kalispell TBID
– Glacier Country Tourism
– Montana Lodging & Hospitality Association
– Glacier Bank
– Explore Whitefish

Tourism Grants Announced in 27 Communities

Posted on Jan 19, 2018 in Latest News | No Comments

Friday, January 19, 2018



Ronja Abel, Communications Director, Governor’s Office, (406) 444-9725

Marissa Perry, Press Secretary, Governor’s Office, (406) 444-4514
Daniel Iverson, Communications Manager, Department of Commerce, (406) 841-2893


Governor Bullock Announces Grants to Strengthen Tourism in 27 Communities


MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock today announced $750,000 in grants to develop and enhance tourism and recreation in 27 Montana communities across the state. The grant funds will support $1.8 million of investments into infrastructure and marketing projects.


“Visitors from out of state add billions of dollars to Montana’s economy, which directly support our communities, small businesses and people,” said Governor Bullock. “By investing in our tourism and recreation resources, we will maximize our ability to attract and serve the visitors who drive one of Montana’s leading industries.”


The funds are being awarded through the Tourism Grant Program at the Department of Commerce, Office of Tourism and Business Development.


The Tourism Grant Program awards funds to projects that strengthen Montana’s economy through the development and enhancement of the state’s tourism and recreation industry. Eligible projects include arts, culture and heritage preservation; visitor facility upgrades and construction; and niche product development.


Full List of Grant Recipients:

  • Crazy Mountain Museum of Big Timber received $15,500 to move, set up and renovate the historic Fjare Cabin from its current site in Melville to the museum grounds.
  • Jefferson County received $14,984 to create a website to promote tourism and recreation.
  • World Museum of Mining of Butte received $11,560 to preserve the historic St. Helena’s Church by replacing its roof.
  • Blaine County Fair Foundation of Chinook received $22,000 to set up an indoor arena for events and horseback riding year-round.
  • Town of Circle received $14,750 to upgrade Redwater Memorial Park for bicycle tourism with a bench, a shelter wall, playground equipment and additional sand to complete a youth climbing wall area.
  • Cut Bank Area Chamber of Commerce received $4,553 to replace damaged concrete at its visitor information center for accessibility.
  • Southwest Montana Tourism Region of Deer Lodge received $30,450 to purchase, produce content for and place 12 Ultra HD (4K) traveler information displays across the region.
  • Forsyth Chamber of Commerce received $1,300 to update its website content management system to a newer version so the website is easier to update.
  • Missouri River Country Tourism Region of Fort Peck received $28,000 to redesign its website to promote tourism and recreation in northeastern Montana.
  • Yellowstone Forever of Bozeman received $20,000 to restore historical signage at the Roosevelt Arch in Gardiner.
  • Central Montana Tourism Region of Great Falls received $17,000 to redesign the Montana Dinosaur Trail website, including mobile optimization.
  • Ravalli County Museum of Hamilton received $20,000 to upgrade lighting and seating on the second floor of the museum, which includes seven galleries of various sizes and the large Courtroom Gallery with a stage.
  • Kalispell Lakers Baseball Association received $8,000 for upgrades to the Griffin Baseball Field in order to host state tournaments.
  • City of Libby received $85,355 for welcome and wayfinding signage.
  • Big Sky Film Institute of Missoula received $7,898 to upgrade the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival website, including mobile optimization.
  • Missoula County received $105,282 to install an elevator in the historic Commercial Building for accessibility, to improve visitors’ access to and experience of Western Montana Fair exhibits and to expand the number of events held in the Commercial Building.
  • Noxon Senior Citizens, Inc. received $9,150 for its Road to the Buffalo interpretive signage project, which marks the historic byway passing through Sanders County with four signs at designated roadside turnouts along Highway 200.
  • Philipsburg Ice Association received $104,511.50 to improve the quality of the ice surface at the Philipsburg Ice Rink and to allow for a longer, more consistent ice skating season.
  • Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary of Red Lodge received $8,155 to replace the aging deck at the entrance of the sanctuary to be more accessible and visitor friendly.
  • Lake County Community Development Corporation of Ronan received $15,000 to restore the Ronan Arch.
  • Daniels County Museum Association of Scobey received $40,000 to build an attractive metal rod fence to replace a post and wire fence on the east side of Pioneer Town, which is the entrance and the side facing Scobey.
  • Carousel Rest Area of Shelby Inc. of Shelby received $33,000 to complete interior work for the carousel house, including insulation, sheet rocking and completion of the restrooms and kitchen area.
  • Stevensville Main Street Association received $9,200 for a three-panel outdoor visitor information kiosk to be constructed and installed adjacent to the Stevensville Main Street Association office and visitor information center.
  • Evelyn Cameron Heritage of Terry received $40,120 to install a heating system and winterize the facility for changing weather conditions.
  • Yellowstone Historic Center of West Yellowstone received $6,150 to purchase five exhibit display tables and to refinish the hardwood floor in the east wing of the museum.
  • Glacier Nordic Club of Whitefish received $51,000 to purchase a groomer to improve the Nordic (cross-country) skiing on the existing and future Big Mountain Nordic ski trails.
  • Whitehall Chamber of Commerce received $5,720.50 for several facility and grounds upgrades.
  • Jefferson Valley Museum of Whitehall received $17,300 to repair and restore two exterior sides of the barn housing the museum.
  • American Legion Post 20 of Dillon received $4,061 for improvements to camping facilities at Wisdom’s American Legion Memorial Park, which is located on the Adventure Cycling TransAmerica bike route.


Learn more at the Tourism Grant Program website.





Marissa Perry

Press Secretary

Governor Steve Bullock

P: 406.444.4514 | E:

Facebook | Twitter


Year in Review for Montana Tourism Industry

Posted on Dec 21, 2017 in Latest News, Media, News & Archives | No Comments

Year in Review for Montana Tourism Industry

HELENA, MT – Tourism is a leading industry in Montana and continued its strong economic performance in 2017 supporting over 53,000 jobs.  Tourism provides jobs in lodging, restaurants, retail and many indirect positions supporting real estate, construction, architecture and banking.  Non-resident visitors spent $3.3 billion according to the preliminary traveler expenditure report from Institute for Tourism & Recreation Research (ITRR).

The year started off strong in the winter with the second highest recorded skier visits with 1.5 million skier days, five of Montana’s 14 ski areas attracted record skier visits.  Deep early season snow and increased air service brought more people to the slopes improving Montana’s economy, lodging receipts for the first quarter were at record numbers with 6% increase from the year before based on lodging tax collections.

After the strong winter start an early spring melted valley snow prompting early biking, hiking and fishing opportunities.  National park visitation launched at a record pace in Glacier National Park, with June and July setting new records.  Yellowstone National Park visitation held steady from its record numbers the year before.  One strong performing national park was Little Bighorn Battlefield in eastern Montana with four years of continued growth and a 5% bump from the year before.

By summer temperatures rose and forest fires became an issue that persisted into the fall. ITRR released a report stating that the smoke and fires had a negative impact on tourism spending of $240 million for the year.  Fortunately, many visitors still visited and enjoyed Montana activities.  In response to the communities impacted with the loss of business revenue due to fires, Montana’s Department of Commerce set up an expedited grant and loan program for small tourism businesses.

By autumn, most major Montana airports were announcing increased service with new non-stop cities, new airlines and increasing seats and also important infrastructure investments with terminal upgrades and runway improvements.

“With increasing air service, private industry capital investments and strong statewide and regional marketing programs, Montana has all the ingredients for growth in the visitor economy, said Dax Schieffer, Voices of Montana Tourism Director.  “With these strong fundamentals, I’m very optimistic for the thousands of families and businesses to see continued success in the hospitality sector into 2018.”

Voices of Montana Tourism serves as a united voice for Montana’s tourism stakeholders. Since its creation in 2011, Voices has led the effort with education and outreach to communicate the immense value a sustainably-grown tourism industry provides for all Montanans.


MEDA Spring Conference, April 26-27 – Dillon

Posted on Oct 13, 2017 in Uncategorized, Upcoming Events | No Comments



MEDA Members, Partners, and Friends –


Rockin’ it Rural: Thriving in Small Town Montana! Mark you calendar now to join us in Dillon, April 26-27 for the MEDA Spring Conference.


Your hosts: Headwaters RC&D and Beaverhead Development.


Some highlights include: Professional Development Training, Legislative Strategy Update, Cybersecurity, How to Rock it Rural, MEDA Annual Meeting, Walking Tour of Campus and Historic District, Party at Patagonia (with special discount), Outdoor Recreation Economic Development…and…more!


Agenda       Registration         Sponsor


Commerce Reports Int’l Visitors Spent $245 Billion in 2016

Posted on Aug 14, 2017 in Latest News | No Comments

August 11, 2017 


U.S. Department of Commerce Reports International Visitors to the United States Spent $245 Billion in 2016


WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Commerce today revealed that 75.6 million international visitors came to the United States in 2016 for business, medical, education and leisure purposes. The visitors collectively spent $244.7 billion across the country.

Compared to 2015, visitor arrivals decreased by 2 percent and visitor spending decreased 1 percent. It was the first decline in visitors since 2009. Preliminary data for 2017 indicate an uptick in visitors.

In 2016, travel and tourism was the largest services export for the United States, comprising 33 percent of services exports and 11 percent of exports overall.

China ($33 billion), Mexico ($20.2 billion), India ($13.6 billion), and South Korea ($8.6 billion) all experienced increases in both spending and visitations. China was up 15 percent in the number of arrivals and 9 percent in spending; South Korea was up 12 percent in visitations and 4 percent in spending; Mexico was up 2 percent in visitations and 3 percent in spending; India increased 4 percent in arrivals and 14 percent in spending. The remaining top markets experienced declines.

The National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating international travel and tourism statistics. For more monthly travel and tourism-related trade data dating back to 1999, click here.


Leadership Montana Confluence, September 2019 – Bozeman

Posted on Aug 14, 2017 in Upcoming Events | No Comments