Montana tourism campaign targets visitors from nearby states

AP

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GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) Montana's summer tourism promotion invites would-be visitors to "Discover Your Montana Moment."

The campaign's goal is to raise nationwide awareness of Montana as a tourism destination, while focusing on potential visitors from nearby states, the Great Falls Tribune (gftrib.com/2pWEUE5) reported.

The campaign, which features images by Montana photographers, emphasizes opportunities for visitors to have an "authentic trip that lets them experience the feelings of being free-spirited and adventurous while returning to a fine meal and comfortable place to rest," said Jenny Pelej with the Montana Office of Tourism.

The campaign also hired "influencers" with active social media followings to visit the state and post pictures with the hashtag #MontanaMoment. Others are encouraged to do the same.

Tourism research helped frame the campaign. Surveys found that Montana ranked in the middle of western states as a place people consider visiting for outdoor fun and scenic beauty, but it has a higher "destination aspiration gap," meaning more people want to visit than have visited.

The research found out-of-staters use words like beautiful, wilderness, uncrowded and welcoming to describe Montana, but they also feel that it's hard to get to and maybe a little bland and boring.

Last year, Montana saw a record 12 million visitors an increase of 1.6 million compared to 2011.

The Montana Moment campaign is being run by the Milwaukee-based ad firm Hoffman York. The Commerce Department was criticized for awarding the $7 million contract to an out-of-state firm last year.

Hoffman York announced Wednesday that it was opening an office in Helena on May 1.

"Since working with our newest client, Montana Tourism and Business Development last year, we determined that an office in Helena would not only provide greater support for Montana tourism it would also serve as a great base of operation to grow our footprint in the west," Hoffman CEO Troy Peterson said in a statement.

The firm also has offices in Los Angeles, Chicago and Louisville, Kentucky.

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Online: www.visitmt.com

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Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com

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