Holiday travel expected to break records

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MISSOULA – A record breaking number of Americans will travel this holiday season according to AAA Montana. More than 107 million travelers will hit the road and the airlines between Saturday, Dec 23 and Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 as 10 most traveled days of the year.

“We’ve seen growth in every major travel holiday this year and that continues for the year-end holidays,” said Michelle Donati, spokesperson for AAA Montana.

Despite reports of increased travel, the number of nonresident visitors to Montana remained nearly flat in 2017, according to preliminary estimates by the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research. However, the report also shows increased spending by travelers.

In 2017, approximately 12.2 million nonresidents visited Montana and spent more than $3 billion in the Treasure State, according to the report. The number of travelers visiting the state in 2017 remained nearly even with 2016. Despite very little change in the number of individual travelers, those who did travel to the state stayed longer on average and spent more. The net result is an 8 percent increase in total spending over 2016.

During 2017, visitor spending supported an estimated 38,700 jobs directly and more than 53,000 jobs in total. Nonresident spending within the state also supported $1 billion of labor income and indirectly supported $556 million of labor income. Nonresidents contributed more than $204 million in state and local taxes.

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