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Yellowstone airport sets passenger record; park visits drop

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BOZEMAN — Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport saw more passengers than ever before in 2019 even as nearby Yellowstone National Park reported a dip in visitation.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports 1.57 million passengers traveled through the airport last year, a more than 17% increase from 2018. That marks the 10th consecutive year the airport has beaten its own record.

Airport director Brian Sprenger says passenger numbers dipped in 2009 because of the economic recession but have been on the rise ever since.

“In 2019, we had about 231,000 additional seats over 2018, and as you can see we’ve filled almost every one of those additional seats,” he said. “It’s very rare to add 231,000 seats and basically fill every one.”

Meanwhile, Yellowstone National Park announced Wednesday it recorded a little more than 4 million visits last year, the lowest number since 2014.

The year-end figure marks an almost 6% drop since the park’s record-breaking 2016 season.

Yellowstone, which straddles the borders of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, typically sees its most visitors during the summer months.

Visitor numbers have been trending upward for decades and have roughly doubled since the 1970s. That’s led to crowding at some of the park’s most popular attractions.

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