Tourism in 2020 was Down but Recovered despite COVID Pandemic

Out of state tourism was down in 2020 as expected due to the pandemic, but the steady stream of out of state visitors throughout the year enabled the travel and tourism industry to keep its head above water.

University of Montana Institute of Tourism and Recreation Research Assistant Director Kara Grau provided details from a report released on Tuesday.

“Things in January through March of 2020 were looking really great,” began Grau. “We had good visitation, and spending by travelers was higher than it had been the previous first quarter in 2019. But then things of course, kind of shut down as the pandemic hit. The Canadian border closed and travel restrictions were put in place.”

Grau said visitation was definitely down, but not out in Montana.

“For the year our estimate is that travelers who came into Montana spent about $3.2 billion” she said. “Spending was down from 2019 by about 16%. The number of travelers was down about 12% from 2019, but we still had a little over 11 million non resident visitors in the state though for the year.”

As the year went on, Grau said tourism and visitation began to pick up even more.

“All of us are probably aware that despite

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