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Montana Tourism Increases Despite Government Shutdown

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BOZEMAN -

According to a study done by the University of Montana's Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, more than 11-million out-of-staters visited Montana in 2013.

Kyle Reddies is the manager of the Western Heritage Inn in Bozeman. He said numbers at his hotel were up across the board in 2013.

"I think the drive to visit Montana was big," said Reddies. "We had a lot of people coming up for things like fly fishing."

According to a study, non-resident visitation in 2013 was up two-percent from 2012 in Montana. Spending in places like restaurants, retail and gas stations was also up by 17 percent.

"I think the whole industry is working together to get more out-of-state residents to visit," said Matt Sease, Montana Lodging and Hospitality Association Treasurer.

But, not all places saw an increase of tourism. The study shows national park visitation was down by five-percent across the state due to the 16-day government shutdown in October.

But, Reddies said the national parks being closed actually helped his business.

"We had some people stay here because they needed somewhere to go after leaving the park," said Reddies.

Sease said the lodging industry in Montana is only expected to see an increase in business in the next few years.

"It is supposed to increase three to four percent in 2014 and 2015," said Sease.

The study also shows visits by skiers rose more than two-percent in Montana.

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