Peter Christ, co-owner of Bridge Creek Backcountry Kitchen and Wine Bar, plans to staff his Red Lodge restaurant for a big summer.
Al Sargent, chairman of Hardin’s Little Bighorn Days Committee, can barely contain his enthusiasm.
New indications of just how well Montana’s tourism economy is faring this year suggest renewed strength in one of the state’s leading industries.
Just how well is Montana’s tourism industry doing in the middle of a year replete with economic uncertainty?
Gas prices steadily climbing toward $4 a gallon may mean that the 10.5 million or more tourists expected to visit Montana this year will spend less on souvenirs and restaurants and book cheaper hotels.
Room taxes aside, Jan Quintrall, who heads the Better Business Bureau in Spokane, Wash., paid the same basic rate for a room at the Crowne Plaza in Billings this summer as she did for a hotel in Seattle.
When summer weather finally arrived in late June, it took a few days before weather-weary Montanans could trust that their travel plans would not be spoiled by cool temperatures and soggy campgrounds.