Study: Montana lost $240 million in tourist spending due to fires

The fires that charred large swaths of Montana over the summer discouraged hundreds of thousands of tourists from visiting the state, resulting in a $240 million loss in visitor spending, according to a new report.

Preliminary data released by the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research estimates that tourists in Montana spent nearly $3.3 billion in the state this year, supporting more than 53,000 jobs. But both numbers would have been higher if not for the fires and smoke that blanketed much of the state through the summer — by far the height of the tourist season — according to a second report released Tuesday by the organization.