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Montana launches winter tourism campaign

/ Source: The Associated Press

Montana's Department of Commerce Office of Tourism is launching a new marketing campaign in hopes of luring tourists during the winter months.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer announced the campaign in a press release last week, saying the state needed a winter campaign "as compelling and memorable as a Montana winter vacation."

The campaign features skier and cinematographer Warren Miller, Olympic mogul skier Heather McPhie and X-Games medalist, author and photographer Kevin Connolly. The campaign includes magazine and other print ads, along with online banner advertising, bus and train wraps and billboards.

Winter tourists are drawn to the state's skiing and wildlife watching, state officials say. The campaign will target national audiences and key feeder markets for non-resident visitors, according to the press release, in an effort to build awareness of Montana's "secret season."

Schweitzer said the state is honored by the participation of Warren Miller, who is known for his extreme skiing movies.

"It is also a powerful testament to the incomparable quality of skiing that Montana offers," he said.

Most of Montana's 10.5 million annual visitors travel during the summer months, according to the state, and the visitors spend about $2.5 billion in Montana each year. State officials say tourists also contribute $180 million in tax revenue, support more than 28,000 jobs and provide over $785 million in earnings for Montana workers.

In October, the Montana Department of Revenue reported that tourism appeared to be up for the first half of the year, with bed tax numbers increasing more than 14 percent in the first quarter compared to last year, and 2.7 percent in the second quarter. Smith Travel Research, which monitors the lodging industry, said that Montana in July and August had the second-highest lodging occupancy in the nation at more than 85 percent. Only North Dakota's lodging occupancy came in ahead.