Tourists Spending More on Hotels, Motels, Bed Tax

Article excerpt

More international tourists, especially from China, are visiting Montana, which may help out-of-state tourism numbers top 11 million this year, slightly more than 2012.

"It was just a really great summer season. The tourism in both national parks and even the state parks was up wonderfully," said Jeri Duran, division administrator for the Montana Office of Tourism.

But the actual number of tourists isn't as important as how much they spend while they are here. Tourists spent more during the first nine months on hotels, motels and other lodging.

According to the Montana Revenue Department, the state's lodging tax revenues are up 5 percent to $19.6 million for the first nine months of 2013.

And a strong winter sports season could drive that higher for the final three months of this year, Duran said.

Last year, Montana collected $22.2 million in lodging taxes, up 11 percent over 2011, according to Revenue Department's statistics. The lodging tax is 4 percent of the nightly room rate.

For the first nine months of 2013, Billings hotels and motels collected 9 percent more in lodging taxes.

Yellowstone County hotels and motels collected 11 percent more.

State tourism officials are trying to attract more tourists by reaching potential visitors through online advertising and social media, Duran said. …