(Missoula Current) A study released Thursday by the University of Montana found that the popular television series “Yellowstone” brought more than 2 million visitors to Montana in 2021.

And they spent big money while here - $730 million according to the study, which was conducted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at UM.

“Yellowstone” contributed significantly to the state’s economy, but when the more recent study was extended to include the impact of visitor spending, these effects changed dramatically,” according to Patrick Barkey, director of BBER. “Extending our previous analysis to include the impacts of tourism spending was eye-opening.”

The Yellowstone series is currently television's most popular, and the role it has played in marketing the state has been significant, Barkey said.

The show is largely filmed in Missoula, Darby and Hamilton and it “treated more than 12 million viewers to the scenery of Montana during its season-five premier.”

It also has brought big money to the region, boosting small businesses, providing jobs and feeding tax revenue into the state's general fund, according to the report, "Assessing the Impact of the Yellowstone Television Series on Montana's Tourism Economy."

“Everything from food services, hotels, rental companies and transportation services to high tech and skilled trades such as electricians and carpenters, are benefiting from the film industry’s activity in the state,” said Todd O’Hair, president and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce.

“It is also clear that ‘Yellowstone’ has proven to be a big economic driver of tourism, creating more jobs, tax generation and a wave of economic activity.”

The study found that the combination of visitor spending and film production spending associated with the production of “Yellowstone” in Montana resulted in:

  • $730.1 million in spending to the state’s economy.
  • $44.5 million in state tax revenues directed in whole or in part to the general fund.
  • 10,200-plus jobs across a wide spectrum of industries, including both tourism-related and other industries.
  • $376 million in income received by Montana households.
  • roughly $1.1 billion in output, or gross receipts, of Montana business and nonbusiness organizations.
  • 2.1 million visitors to Montana in 2021 whose decision to visit was the result of the show.
  • 3,305 more people attracted and retained to the state by the increased economic opportunity.

“Film is an economic driver of tourism, and the ‘Yellowstone’ TV show has demonstrated the power of Montana’s American West image to influence people to visit the state,” said Melissa Weddell, the ITRR director.