HELENA, Mont. – Five tribal tourism businesses last week traveled to North Dakota to sit down with international tour operators interested in bringing more visitors from overseas to Montana’s Indian Country.
The Department of Commerce hosted the businesses at the International Roundup, an annual tradeshow at which tour operators from around the world learn more about travel opportunities in the Rocky Mountain region and ultimately build itineraries to sell to their customers overseas.
“The Department of Commerce works closely with tribal governments and tour operators to assist with culturally-appropriate tourism development and promotion,” said Commerce Director Pam Haxby-Cote. “Overseas, there is significant interest in authentic tribal tourism experiences. Events such as these help tribal tourism businesses tap into the demand for their services.”
Participants comprised Blackfeet Tours (Blackfeet, Little Shell), Indian Battle Tours (Crow), Montana Journeys (Salish, Pend d’Orielle), Sun Tours (Blackfeet) and Water People Tours (Kootenai).
Ed DesRosier, owner of Sun Tours, presented to dozens of tour operators from across Scandinavia and western Europe.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase what we offer,” he said. “We learned that there is great interest in the West, and native experiences are high on travelers’ lists. We really embraced that and felt very well received by the industry that [the tour operators] represent.”
To further support the participants, Commerce launched a new website at TribalTourismMT.com featuring contact and itinerary information, photos and reviews.
Montana is part of a four-state tourism marketing alliance with North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming to promote travel to the region.
Next year, tour operators who attend the Roundup will see part of Montana’s Indian Country firsthand. Kalispell will host the 2018 Roundup from April 8–12, and as part of the event, Commerce will organize familiarization tours of Montana for the tour operators to experience themselves.