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Travel and tourism.

Early in 1991, the nation's travel and tourism industry was hit with a triple peril: recession, war, and the threat of terrorism. Nationally, intercity auto travel was flat and domestic air travel was down about 3 percent. For many regions of the United States, the travel and tourism industry had a difficult year.

In contrast to the 1981-82 recession, Montana's travel and tourism industry somehow escaped the negative impacts of 1991's national and international events. Nonresident skier visits continued to climb in 1991 despite a weak beginning caused by poor weather during the 1990 holiday season. Nonresident highway visitors increased about 2 percent while air travel to Montana increased about 4 percent. Visits to Montana's national parks reached all time highs; Yellowstone recorded nearly 3 million visits, Glacier more than 2 million visits.

The state's accommodation tax revenue is another key indicator of travel trends. Revenue increased 10 percent or more on a year to year basis for each of the first three quarters of 1991.

Nonresident spending also increased. Preliminary estimates suggest total nonresident spending in Montana during 1991 will reach about $815 million, an increase of 7 percent over 1990.

Montana's tourism and recreation industry did not follow national trends because its principal markets - the upper Midwest, the Northwest and California - did not suffer in the recession as much as other regions of the nation. Montana also may have benefitted from an estimated 10 percent decline in U.S. citizen departures for overseas, a stronger Canadian dollar, and the new Goods and Services Tax in Canada.

Projections suggest continued softness in the tourism and recreation industry nationwide; lingering effects of the 1991 recession and low consumer sentiment may lead to only marginal growth in 1992. Montana's 1992 performance will depend on strength in regional and Canadian economies, consumer optimism in our principal markets, and effectiveness of statewide promotional efforts. The quality of our product also will be a factor.

Steve McCool is director of the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, The University of Montana.
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Title Annotation:Major Industries; The Montana Economy within a Regional Context
Author:McCool, Steve
Publication:Montana Business Quarterly
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Mar 22, 1992
Previous Article:Health Care.
Next Article:Montana's secondary wood & paper products sector.

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