Final data calculations are in for the 2015 travel season in the state and Assistant Director Kara Grau with the Montana Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research said the numbers really tell a compelling story for the success of tourism in Montana.

"Overall, we had about 11.7 million non-resident travelers pass through Montana for one reason or another during 2015. Those folks spent almost $3.7 billion while they were here," Grau said. "They spent that on a variety of things: Fuel purchases, eating out at restaurants or bars, retail purchases, all sorts of different things."

To break the numbers down further, Grau said the direct economic impact from the $3.7 billion spent was $3.1 billion.

"[That] was directly injected into our economy," Grau said. "When we look at the flow of that throughout the economy, when you add in those induced and indirect impacts to the state, the combined impact of that was $5.1 billion."

Grau said visitation is also up from that same period in 2014.

"Research has shown that seven out of 10 first time visitors come to Montana to visit a National Park," Voices of MT Tourism Director Dax Schieffer said. "However 86 percent of those who visit once will return for an opportunity to explore all the amazing sights and less traveled areas the state has to offer, fueling the economic engine that is tourism for all of Montana."

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