In a report released this week from the University of Montana Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, Missoula and Glacier Country led the way in non-resident tourism spending with $1.07 billion.

Associate Director of the institute Jeremy Sage said on Monday, that the total amount of non-resident tourism spending is over $3 billion.

“We just finished up our 2017 estimate of the amount of money spent by non-residents in Montana,” began Sage. “This is a two year-average between 2016 and 2017. We have six travel regions in the state with a combined $3.2 billion in the state, which is a 2.6 percent increase from our estimates from last year.”

Glacier Country, which is comprised of the northwest corner of the state, including Missoula, led the way in non-resident tourism income.

“Glacier Country is killing it, really,” said Sage. “Of that $3.2 billion, $1.07 billion came to Glacier Country, or about a third of all the spending. Glacier National Park is one of the biggest draws. That and Yellowstone National Park are the reasons most people come to Montana for vacation.”

Sage translates the visitor spending into economic impact for Glacier Country.

“In Glacier Country specifically, that $1.07 billion translates into $1.32 billion in economic activity and about 17,500 jobs and about $461 million in labor income. Visitors are spending money on food and lodging, the whole retail sector benefits from these visitors, but one of the growing pieces of what people are spending on are outfitting and guiding that in the last two years has actually surpassed retail spending.”

Sage said the increases should continue in the years to come.

“I think we’re definitely on an uptick and we’re continually seeing positive growth,” he said. “We’re continuing to see this positive growth especially in the two biggest areas, Glacier County and Yellowstone Country.”

The report said that Missoula County benefited from $295 million directly in non-resident travel spending.

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