A Big Year for Tourism

The 2018 tourism season saw a 10 percent increase in nonresident traveler spending statewide, with $614 million in Flathead County

By Molly Priddy
Hikers wait to cross a snow field along the trail to Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park. Beacon File Photo

Tourism season is running full bore in the Flathead, much to the delight of many local restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that benefit from the massive influx of people in to the valley every summer.

Nonresident spending is one of the biggest economic contributors in Flathead County, as well as the rest of the state. The northwest corner of Montana is particularly popular, however, as the latest study from the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana shows.

Here’s a breakdown of the ITRR’s 2018 tourism estimate report on the economics, spending, and other ripple effects visitors have in our corner of the state.

$3.58 billion
Amount nonresident travelers spent in Montana in 2018

10.5 percent
Increase in spending over the previous year

$614 million
Money spent in Flathead County in 2018 by tourists, the second highest in the state

$486.5 million
Spending in Flathead County in 2018 that had a direct economic impact, such as purchases of goods and services.

$338 million
Spending in Flathead County that had an indirect impact on the economy, such as purchases made by travel-related businesses or purchases by those employed in travel-related occupation

$824.5 million
Total economic impact of nonresident spending to the regional economy, including direct and indirect categories

Total nonresident traveler spending in the Glacier Country region of the state, composed of Northwest and Western Montana counties

Nonresident spending on Made-in-Montana products in Flathead County in 2018

Nonresident spending at farmers markets in Flathead County in 2018

Restaurant and bar spending by nonresident travelers in Flathead County in 2018

$814 million
Money spent in Gallatin County in 2018 by nonresident travelers, the highest in the state

Counties in Montana that saw $50 million in nonresident traveler spending

Amount tourists spent on gasoline and diesel statewide

Amount tourists spent at farmers markets statewide