From the Feb. 14, 2012 edition of the Billings Gazette

Most of the 10-million-plus visitors to Montana will arrive after our snow is gone. But Montana businesses and tourism organizations want Montanans to start thinking now about how important the travel industry is to our state.

Most of Montana’s tourism promotion budget comes from a statewide lodging tax. The 2011 Legislature passed bills that would have diverted a big chunk of tourism promotion funds to the general fund and another bill that would have sunset the lodging tax. Those bills didn’t become law, thanks to vetoes from Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

That legislative experience reinforced the concerns of a new tourism promotion group that many Montanans don’t understand what tourism does for our state.

Voices of Montana Tourism, which is supported by the Billings Tourism Improvement District and other organizations statewide, is trying to get the good word out on tourism.

“Tourism is often the industry that tends to get overlooked,” said Mary Paoli, a Bozeman consultant who is working for Voices of Montana Tourism. “It’s a clean business, a constant economic engine.”

Read the full editorial on the Billings Gazette site. Published in the Feb. 14, 2012 edition of the Billings Gazette.

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