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Montana Tourism Businesses Report Sharp Booking Declines Following Stay-At-Home Directive

The UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research asked Montana tourism businesses about their bookings between March 13 and March 26, 2020.
UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research

Over 90 percent of travel related businesses in Montana have been impacted by COVID-19 through cancellations and a sharp decline in bookings, according to a biweekly survey by the University of Montana.

Twice as many businesses responding to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research’s second survey at the end of March reported cancellations compared to two weeks prior.

The most recent survey published Friday found over 60 percent of the businesses reported zero bookings made for April and May. Around half still had bookings for June and around 80 percent said they had bookings for July and beyond.

Spring is usually a busy time for reservations and requests for more information, but the surveys show a sharp decline.

One survey respondent said, “Basically, by the middle of March, the phones just stopped ringing.”

ITRR is tracking the effects of the global pandemic on tourism in the state through surveys sent out every two seeks to hotels, guides and outfitters, gift shops and other tourism-related businesses.

The second survey was conducted after Gov. Steve Bullock issued a stay-at-home directive but before Bullock mandated travelers coming into the state to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Over half of the survey’s 900 participants said they have reduced their workforce and some part of their business.

The two surveys also showed people are increasingly concerned about their health, their communities and the economy.