“Virginia is for lovers,” but Montana is for families. According to a new study by the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, of the 11.7 million visitors to Montana last year, the biggest spenders weren’t here on a date. According to ITRR director Norma Nickerson, the new data was a big surprise.

"The thing that surprised me the most is that people who spend most money had a propensity to be here with family more so than the other spending groups," said Nickerson. "Now I have to correct myself; all along, I've been saying for awhile that we are a state that people come to as couples."

The research targeted vacationers and separated them into three spending groups to try to find similarities and differences. While families spent the most, two elements featured prominently among more frugal spenders.

"They were definitely more so the camping group than anything, but they are also using Montana as a piece of their vacation if they're driving through to somewhere else," Nickerson said. "Even then though, they still spend as much time here."

The highest spending bracket included those that spent more than $351 per day during their Montana vacation while the lowest spending bracket managed to vacation in Montana for less than $45 per day.

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