MISSOULA – A new study shows that the popular Yellowstone television series is drawing millions of visitors and millions of dollars to Montana.
A report by the UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) and the school’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research (ITRR) shows that Yellowstone drew an estimated 2.1 million visitors and $730 million in spending to Montana in 2021.
The study also found that the television show has been a major factor in the commercialization of Montana. Centered on the fictional Dutton family ranch, Yellowstone is filmed largely in Darby, Hamilton, Missoula, and the Bitterroot Valley. A UM press release notes that the show invited more than 12 million viewers to the Montana landscape during the season five premiere.
A 2022 study by BBER found that Yellowstone contributed significantly to the state’s economy, but when the most recent study was expanded to include the impact of visitor spending, these effects changed dramatically, according to BBER Director Patrick Barkey.
“Expanding our previous analysis to include the impacts of tourism spending was revealing,” Barkey said.
The study found that the combination of visitor expenses and film production expenses associated with the production of “Yellowstone” in Montana resulted in:
$730.1 million in expenses for the state economy. $44.5 million in state tax revenue directed in whole or in part to the general fund. More than 10,200 jobs in a wide range of industries, including those related to tourism and other industries. $376 million in income received by Montana households. Approximately $1.1 billion in production, or gross receipts, from Montana commercial and non-commercial organizations. 2.1 million visitors to Montana in 2021 whose decision to visit was a result of the fair. 3,305 more people attracted and retained in the state due to the greater economic opportunity.
“Movies are an economic engine of tourism, and the television show ‘Yellowstone’ has demonstrated the power of Montana’s image of the American West in influencing people to visit the state,” said ITRR Director Melissa Weddell.
“Everything from food services, hotels, rental companies and transportation services to high tech and skilled trades like electricians and carpenters are benefiting from movie industry activity in the state,” said the president and CEO of Montana Chamber of Commerce, Todd O’Hair. “It’s also clear that ‘Yellowstone’ has proven to be a major economic driver of tourism, creating more jobs, tax generation and a wave of economic activity.”
Additional information is available online in an article titled “Assessing the Impact of the ‘Yellowstone’ Television Series on Montana’s Tourism Economy” in BBER’s Montana Business Quarterly. UM’s full report can be viewed online at https://bit.ly/UMyellTVreport.