Visitors to Glacier continue to spend more and more in communities

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Dan Stoken and of East Glacier takes in the expansive view of Glacier National Park from a summit in the Whitefish Range in this file photo.

Every year for the past seven years, visitor spending in the gateway communities of Glacier National Park has grown.

According to figures released last week by the Department of the Interior, visitors spent about $344 million in the gateway communities, which was up from $275 million the year before and double what they spent in 2012.

The spending supported a total of 5,230 jobs, $163 million in labor income, $269 million in value added spending, and $484 million in economic output in local gateway economies surrounding Glacier National Park. Glacier Park itself employs about 140 year-round staff and more than 300 seasonal staff.

It’s estimated that visitor spending was up about 36 percent over the previous year.

Most of the jobs (29 percent) were in the hotel and motel industries, about 18 percent were in restaurants and about 30 percent were “secondary effects.”

While gas amounted to about $30 million in spending, the number of jobs it supported was small — just 56.

Last year Glacier visitation was down about 10 percent over 2017, but it was still historically high at about 2.65 million — the second most ever. In 2017, the park saw 3.3 million people.

In 2012, by comparison, it saw 2.162 million. The last time Glacier even saw a dip in visitation was in 2011, when it dropped from 2.2 million in 2010 down to 1.85 million.

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