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Bleak summer in store for Montana tourism industry

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“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (2) – 5/12/20

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the outlook for Montana’s tourism industry—which attracted some 12.6 million nonresident tourists who spent more than $3.6 billion in 2019—appears rocky, at least as far as the summer months are concerned. Stuart Doggett, the executive director of the Montana Lodging and Hospitality Association, told the Chronicle Montana hotels will face the worst year on record for occupancy, due in part to a nationwide decline in air travel that has Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport’s passenger numbers at 5-7 percent of typical rates. Airport director Brian Sprenger told the Chronicle in April those figures likely won’t improve until the state moves into phase three of Gov. Steve Bullock’s reopen plans. The mandatory 14-day quarantine for people traveling to Montana from outside the state has proved a practically impassible factor for the tourism industry, making travel plans for tourists—who spend between three and five days in the Treasure State, on average—complex and unattractive. Finally, Montana’s most-popular national park, Yellowstone, has not announced a hard date for a reopen and Xanterra Travel Collection, the park’s largest concessionaire, has announced they will keep a number of the park’s major hotels closed for the season. Even when the park opens, if an outbreak occurs amongst staff, Yellowstone will again be forced to closed, Superintendent Cam Sholly said at the May 7 2020 Virtual Visit Big Sky Annual Marketing Outlook Meeting.

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