Tourism is the second biggest industry in Montana according to montanakids.com. The mandatory 14 day quarantine for out-of-state visitors is having a big impact on some who work in the industry.
Nick Forrester is the owner and operator of Forrester's Bighorn River Resort in Fort Smith, Montana. The resort offers fly fishing, as well as waterfowl and upland bird hunting, on the Bighorn River.
Forrester said 90% of his guests come from out of state. With the current mandatory quarantine for out-of-state guests, he said he hasn't received a deposit for a trip since March. He said June, July and August are typically the busiest months of the year for fly fishing.
Forrester said, "A fourteen day quarantine, that's detrimental to us. I've got people coming in here June 1. I've got two groups. Both of them have actually made deposits. Both of them are old clients. If we don't open up before the end of May, they can't come because they invite people. And, then they pay for their airfare. If they don't know by May 15, then most likely, they are going to have to move or cancel."
He added, "The month of June, I'm pretty much booked except for four days. If I lose June, that's not going to be good. That's pretty much a lot of our fishing."
Forrester said he has applied for government assistance.
He said, "I mean, I've got a chef who's already been working for a month because he started in April, because we usually have business in April. And, you know, I am going to have two months pay on him, April and May, without people. His salary is not cheap. It's going to eat up about fifty percent of the money that I got. It makes you wonder you know… and pray."
Additionally, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks said, "People heading outside still need to keep in mind Montana’s social distancing directives. Per Gov. Bullock’s “Reopening the Big Sky” plan, all who recreate outdoors should “avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.” They are further asked to “exercise frequent sanitation protocols if public facilities are open” and continue to follow all previously established hygiene measures."
For more information from Montana, Fish Wildlife and Parks, you can go here.
Montana Department of Commerce Director Tara Rice said, "Now is not the time to welcome visitors back to Montana, but when the time is right we want visitors to keep us in mind." To that end, Visit Montana released a video to "remind travelers that a trip to Montana is worth the wait." You can see that video here.
More information on the tourism industry in Montana can be found here.