From the April 24, 2012 edition of the Havre Daily News
by Tim Leeds

A representative of a recently formed group was in Havre this morning, telling the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Development Committee the importance of letting state leaders know how vital tourism is.

“If there is one number that speaks to tourism’s role in Montana’s economy it’s this one: 2.77 billion dollars, and this is money coming from outside of our borders into the state each year, ” Voices of Montana Tourism public relations manager Mary Paoli said. “To look at it in context, this is about the net worth of Oprah Winfrey, and this is how much money is coming into our economy each year from nonresidents. ”

Paoli said Voices of Tourism, a collaborative comprising, 17 groups and organizations so far across the state, was formed as the result of two bills that passed the 2011 Montana Legislature.

Paoli said tourism is somewhat unique because it crosses so many industries. While people may think about gas stations, airports and hotels as the businesses that benefit, the impact actually crosses over into almost every industry, both directly and indirectly. Along with gasoline, lodging and food, tourists buy groceries and retail items, attend events. That provides jobs in industries like insurance and legal services for the farmers and ranchers, businesses and other services that the tourists impact.

And that impact is growing, statewide and and locally. Paoli said the $2.77 billion in 2011 was up 10 percent from 2010, and has grown exponentially since 1987.

Hill County’s share of that was $48 million, with more than $20 million spent on gasoline, $9.5 million at restaurants and bars, $4.5 million on lodging, but also more than $4.5 million on groceries and snacks and more than $9.7 million on retail purchases.

Read the full article on the Havre Daily News website.

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