Billings Tourism - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Billings Tourism

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BILLINGS - Nearly a year ago -- the airport began a major runway renovation project. The construction closed the runway for seven weekends, and according to Billings Logan International Airport Assistant Director, Kevin Ploehn, there were thirty-thousand less passengers than normal.

However -- tourism to, and from, the Magic City is looking up this summer.

"We are anticipating picking up that difference this year, and getting back to where we belong," Ploehn said.

Alex Tyson, Visit Billings Executive Director, said the Bakken was a huge part of 2012's record tourism numbers.

"But now that the Bakken area is more more serviced, they have their own doctors, they have their own stores, restaurants -- there's not that mentality that 'Oh my gosh, I have to escape the Bakken then get down to Billings,'" she said.

Tyson added that big concert tickets like Tim McGraw and Huey Lewis, the Blues Festival, and many other Billings events bring in more and more people each year.

"We're really excited for 2014, coming off 2013 being a little bit flat for us," she said. "And having the airport open for the entire season definitely helps us out tremendously."

"Tourism leaving town is looking pretty good," Ploehn added. "And I anticipate we'll see the reciprocal of that coming into town."

Tyson says that more than 2 million people visit Billings each year.