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Connecting Interest and Arrivals: Growing Tourism and Recreation Across Indian Country

Authors: Jeremy Sage*, University of Montana, Iree Wheeler, University of Montana, Norma Nickerson, University of Montana
Topics: Recreational and Sport Geography, Rural Geography
Keywords: Outdoor recreation, Tourism, Indian Country
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Montana is home to numerous Native American tribes. These tribes encompass diverse customs and are found intermixed with amenity resources throughout the state. Despite providing similar scenic landscapes and outdoor recreation opportunities as many other areas of the state, tribal communities of Montana are often left out of the growing tourism and recreation economy. Several have recognized this, and are seeking to identify strategies to better engage visitors. They are doing this by combining outdoor recreation and cultural tourism. As tribal communities make strides in showcasing their cultures to other Montanans and nonresident visitors to the state, it becomes valuable to better understand the interests, values, and traveling preferences of visitors and potential visitors. This paper surveyed four groups of potential visitors to Montana’s Indian Country. These groups consisted of Montanans, frequent visitors to Montana, potential domestic visitors who may or may not have been to Montana, as well as international travelers who also may or may not have been to Montana in the past.

Across all groups surveyed, respondents indicate a strong stated desire in taking part in the tourism and recreation opportunities available in Indian Country, or those which various tribes have indicated an interest in making available. However, this interest has not manifest itself in arrivals to the regions. Significant components of the disconnect between interest and arrivals appears to be both image and visitor awareness of the opportunities. This paper serves as the first step in identifying sustainable develop of tourism in Indian Country in Mont

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