KALISPELL - International tour operators from key markets across Europe are in Kalispell this week for an international trade-show event.
Montana is the host state for the 2018 International Roundup, an international tourism trade show event.
The trade show brings travel planners and tour operators from the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, Nordics, Benelux and Italy who specialize in selling fully inclusive travel itineraries through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and the Dakotas.
Edwin Vandel has been a tour operator for 14 years and although he lives in Holland, he's traveled across the ocean along with dozens of other travel planners to visit Kalispell this week for the event.
"What we try to do as a tour operator in Holland is that we find information for clients in Holland to come to see what is Montana, what is Wyoming, what is to be found in North Dakota," said Edwin Vandel.
During his time in Kalispell, Vandel has experienced what the region has to offer and how it could fit into the vacation his clients back in Holland are dreaming of.
"It's really important to give the tour operators a first-hand experience of what we have to offer here. Obviously, it's great to talk about it but when you can experience what that is there is nothing better," said Dawn Jackson the Sales Manager of the Kalispell Convention & Visitor Bureau.
The event touts the generation of more than $130 million in future travel to the region branded as the "real America," -- Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Each year the states take turns hosting the conference on a rotating basis. Four years ago, it was in Missoula and this is Kalispell's first time hosting it and Vandel says he's already inked deals to do tours in Montana in 2019.
"We want to draw international visitors here because they tend to stay longer and spend more," said Marlee Iverson the International Travel Trade Manager for the Montana Department of Commerce
The Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana reports that average trip expenditures for international travelers are around 27% higher than domestic visitors.
The trade show is hosted by Rocky Mountain International in conjunction with the Montana Department of Commerce, Glacier Country Regional Tourism and the Kalispell Convention & Visitor Bureau.