By David Erickson, Missoulian
Missoula, Mont. (AP) – Hillary Hutchison, a longtime flying guide and fly shop owner in Columbia Falls, said she and her staff were immersed in water this summer with tourists who had never experienced the outdoors before Was.
“She is taking a family vacation to a national park for the first time, not only for first-time anglers, but first-time camper,” she said. “It’s an anecdote, but it seemed Montana His third choice was after going to Disneyland or going to Europe. He had plans for a big separate trip and ‘seeing the United States in Chevrolet’ was not his first choice. But they did so because of COVID. “
For the first time, Hutcheson and his staff had to tell people that bear spray is not a repellent that you spray on your children like an insect repellent. He was also overwhelmed by those who saw the portrayal of fly-fishing in films such as “A River Run Through It” and wanted a full-Vader set-up.
Hutchison told MissUlian, “As we here protest whitewater fly-fishing with rafts and driftboats, they wanted what they see in the media.”
The epidemic means a flood of Americans who did not normally end up in Montana came here this spring, summer and fall. And based on the feedback collected this summer, the Montanans still have an overall favorable view of the tourists and the money they bring here, but 2020 pressed that sentiment.
A new study from the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana found that compared to previous years, Montanance found visitors a little less polite, less patient, less responsible for the environment and more sensitive to the “Montana way of life.” agreed. “
Carter Birmingham, a research associate at the institute, told during a study with Megan Shults that the general trend is still positive towards the state’s perception of tourism and perceptions of visitor behavior, but is slightly lower than in previous years.
Another similar study by the institute found that Montana residents’ views of the tourism industry have declined, with the benefit being lower costs and less confidence that Montanance’s quality of life will improve with more visitors.
Most Montana residents (70%) felt that the overall benefits of tourism outpaced the negative effects, but this represented a 9 percent drop in agreement since 2019 and the lowest agreement level in 10 years.
The authors of the study wrote, “Forty-seven percent of residents agreed or strongly agreed that the quality of life for Montana residents would increase.” “It is also the lowest compromise level in a decade.”
He said that in recent years, the state is becoming congested due to more tourists. For the first time in 10 years, more people agreed than disagreed with that statement, representing an increase of 18 percentage points on 2019 responses.
Nevertheless, the report showed the tourism of most residents generally favorably, just not as much as before.
For the most recent study, the institute hired people to hand out surveys to Montana residents and collected responses from 1,516 people across the state last summer.
Residents were asked how they would assess the general or overall behavior of visitors to Montana for the summer of 2020 and then asked them how they would answer those questions over the years. On a scale of 1 to 10, serving as the most negative response (uncivil) and serving as the 10 most positive (polite), residents were given a range of behaviors in which to comment. The majority of respondents found that visitors should be quite polite during the summer of 2020, with 70% having an average score of either six or higher at 6.71.
But when asked about last year’s 7.17, those respondents gave the mean score for tourists.
Montana residents make tourists less patient and less sensitive as to the “Montana way of life”. There was also a discrepancy between Montana and previous years, in the eyes of Montana residents on the environmental responsibility of tourists. He gave the visitors an average score of 5.44 this year but was 5.57 in earlier years.
Phishing Guide, a phishing guide and owner of Lary’s Fly & Supply in Columbia Falls, said for the first time that it was shocking how many people had no idea what they were doing to come to Montana. But, he and his staff were able to take those encounters and turn them into “tea moments”.
“We first want to help them understand how to make Montana’s outdoor a safe place and a welcoming place for all,” she said. “There’s a lot more to do before you can get there like a wrecking ball. There’s a lot to teach about ecosystems and understanding the risks and how humans play here.”
Outdoor shop workers are on the frontline of teaching newcomers about best practices in outdoor such as “leave no trace” ethics, bear awareness, human waste disposal, navigation and proper catch-and-release fishing techniques. Hutchison said there is an opportunity to teach him about natural resource extraction, climate change, stream degradation and all other environmental topics he might have never thought of before. In this way, they can take back that knowledge Georgia And New York And Wisconsin And work in better practices in other places and in their communities.
“For all of us outside teachers and stewers, we have the opportunity to expose a new group of people and resist getting frustrated to the whole new group because they didn’t know how to drive themselves there.” “We wanted to make sure that when they leave, the glacier is still picture-perfect and pristine and that they can go back to their home waters and become champions of change.”
Birmingham said they would hear reports from Park Rangers about people who had never been out before or had not spent time going out, which showed up in the draw. He said the institute is going through its data and will issue a report in 2021, which should clarify whether there was a spike in inexperienced outdoor enthusiasts in Montana in 2020.
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that many people had not camped, hiking, or boating earlier this summer in Montana.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for the Missoula Region Lorraine Flynn, the regional state park manager, told Missalion in November that parks across the state saw a record trip.
“We saw a lot of visitors who were not accustomed to being outside, were not used to camping and hiking,” he said. “They started doing it because that was what was available. The question is how many of these people convert. For how many people is this going to be a part of their regular lives? Time will tell. There will probably be new habits in the world after COVID. We do not expect to return to the 2019 numbers. We are anticipating a higher visit next year. “
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