Friday Flash 4/3/2020

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Central MT

Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners


Please know that the Department of Commerce is monitoring the economic impacts of this public health situation in real time. All public policy options are being considered.

Guidance for tourism industry partners regarding COVID-19 is available here. This web post will be updated with new information as it becomes available. We urge the traveling public to stay informed, seek information from reputable sources, and take preventative measures, like washing your hands, to protect against COVID-19.

Governor Bullock Directs 14-Day Quarantine for Travelers Arriving in Montana From Another State or Country

Governor Steve Bullock on Monday directed that travelers arriving from another state or country to Montana for non-work-related purposes undergo a 14-day self-quarantine. The Directive follows the governor’s prior travel advisory and last week’s Stay at Home Directive.

While we love our visitors, we would ask that you not come visit while Montanans are watching out for one another by staying at home,” said Governor Bullock. “This is important not only to protect our health care system, but also to protect against the spread of COVID-19.”

As of today, travel from another state or country is the most common known source of COVID-19 infections in Montana. I am asking anyone who is in Montana and has recently traveled from another state or country to do the right thing and self-quarantine for 14 days,” continued Governor Bullock.

The Directive applies both to Montana residents and non-residents entering the state for non-work-related purposes. It requires a self-quarantine for 14 days, or the duration of a non-work trip to Montana—whichever is shorter. The Directive also instructs the Montana Department of Commerce to advise vacation listing and rental sites that they must notify potential out-of-state renters about the quarantine requirement. Health care workers are excluded from the Directive.

Further, the Directive authorizes the Montana National Guard to conduct temperature checks at Montana airports and rail stations and screen for potential exposure history for travelers arriving in Montana from another state or country.

The Directive is effective now through April 10, 2020. You can read the full Directive here

Additional Resources for this Directive:

Attorney General Fox Issues Guidelines for Conducting Public Meetings during State of Emergency

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox issued a letter of advice in response to a request for guidance on how government entities should conduct open meetings during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

The COVID-19 pandemic and social-distancing measures taken to contain its spread have created unique challenges for public participation in their government,” Fox said. “It is imperative that state and local agencies adapt to the new circumstances while upholding Montanans’ constitutional rights of access and participation. These guidelines are intended to assist public officials as they work to navigate the present challenges that have changed daily life for all of us.”

The Attorney General’s Office issued the letter of advice in response to a request from Wyatt Glade, Custer County Attorney and president of the Montana County Attorneys Association, as well as Bozeman City Attorney Greg Sullivan. The letter of advice was drafted in consultation with the Montana Newspaper Association.

The guidelines are as follows:

  • Cancel Non-Essential Meetings. During this national and state COVID-19 emergency, and in light of Executive Directive Implementing Executive Orders 2-2020 and 3-2020 providing measures for the operation of local government issued March 24, 2020, local governments should take all steps possible to indefinitely suspend all non-essential public meetings of any board, agency, or committee of the local government other than the governing body.
  • Limit Public Meetings to Critical Items Only. If a local government determines that a public meeting must be held, local governments should strive to limit the meeting to only those items necessitating immediate or timely action by the governing body. The local government may consider using a “consent agenda” or other methods for allowing for the quickest and most efficient meeting possible.
  • Determine Type of Meeting. In accordance with current public health and safety protocols and national or state directives, the local government should determine the best method for holding a public meeting while protecting public health and safety. During the COVID-19 emergency, a public meeting may be held through remote means.
  • Noticing the Public Meeting. The notice of any public meeting held during the COVID- 19 emergency should also include information on the method by which the meeting will be held, including information about how the public may participate remotely and how documents to be discussed during the meeting can be accessed by the public.
  • Meetings by Remote Communication. If a meeting will be held in whole or in part through remote attendance and participation, the local government should strive, if possible, to provide a remote communication system that provides the members of the local governing body and the public the ability to see, hear, and reasonably participate in the meeting.

Detailed explanations are in the full letter of advice here

Tourism Management and Destination Recovery Through the COVID-19 Crisis

Suggestions for moving your destination through the economics of COVID-19 including a timeline for strategic planning.

Welcome to the age of adaptivity. As the world tries to anchor itself amidst the COVID-19 crisis and the virus-induced reality of an impending economic downturn, destination organizations and the hospitality industry will need to apply a new perspective on destination, development and community engagement.

No matter where you are in the world, our hospitality industry was severely impacted within the first month of responsiveness to the viral disease.

Destination organizations can take immediate action to help adapt to the current situation. Below are 11 moves destination leaders should consider in the days ahead. Read more from here

COVID-19 Resources from the U.S. Travel Association

 (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act
The CARES Act, the largest economic relief package in our nation’s history, was signed into law on March 27 and includes major provisions U.S. Travel fought for to deliver economic support to travel businesses, travel workers and their families. Learn what the different parts of CARES Act mean for you and your travel business with the guides below:

Click here to find lenders available by state and region from the Small Business Administration.

CARES Act Highlights for the Tourism Industry: The CARES Act contains important measures for tourism communities, including:

  • Recovery Promotion. $1.5 billion for the Economic Development Administration to support distressed cities. This funding has been earmarked for “open for business” campaigns at the appropriate time, and would follow the model the agency used to fund promotional efforts following the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf Coast.
  • Emergency Aid for State and Local Governments. To offset the rising costs and lowered tax revenue from falling business activity, $150 billion has been allocated for state and local governments, including $8 billion for tribal governments. Each state will receive a minimum of $1.5 billion.
  • Community Development Block Grants. $5 billion for states and local communities to mitigate economic disruptions in impacted industries, including direct grants to tourism businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • $25 Billion for Infrastructure Grants to States.

Key Tourism Segments

  • Museums and Cultural Institutions. The CARES Act provides $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities to distribute to local institutions address the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Matching grant requirements are waived for this funding, as well as the requirement for grants to be project specific.
  • Distillers. A temporary exemption from an excise tax for alcohol used to make hand sanitizer that is produced and distributed within Food and Drug Administration guidelines.
  • Fishery Assistance. $300 million provided for shrimp and oyster producers who can no longer sell their products to restaurants, for charter fishery operators and other fishery-related entities that have economic revenue losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Airports. $10 billion to support airport operations through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP).
  • Connected Communities. $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services to expand digital network access in areas of the country where such access is lacking, including the purchase of internet-enable devices such as “hotspots” to allow individuals in rural areas to remain connected.

Webinar: On Monday March 30, U.S. Travel's government relations team hosted a webinar detailing what the CARES Act means for the travel industry. You can watch the full recording or review the slide deck

Emergency Preparedness and Response: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
For more resources on communications, healthy travel practices, talking points and other guidelines, click here.

Update on Coronavirus’ Impact on American Travel–Week of March 30th from Destination Analysts

Key Findings to Know this Week

  • 66.1% of American travelers report trips affected by COVID-19, essentially flat from last week. While the near-term (March/April) shows the heaviest losses, the percent reporting cancelled and postponed trips in later months is increasing
  • While Americans predominately attach fear to traveling at the moment, they miss it: two-thirds agree they “can’t wait to get out and travel again” #whencoronavirusisover
  • However, nearly one-third of American travelers say they will change the types of destinations they choose to visit after the coronavirus situation is resolved; another 26.0% are unsure if they will.
  • In the interim, 55.4% of American travelers have been taking action to support local businesses where they live

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here.

Coronavirus: Scammers Follow the Headlines

Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. They’re setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information.

The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments.

Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:

  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date. Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that have information about the virus
  • Protect your computer by keeping your software up to date and by using security software, your cell phone by setting software to update automatically, your accounts by using multi-factor authentication, and your data by backing it up.
  • For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit COVID19.MT.GOV

Save the Dates...

  • Tourism Partner Call—Calls will be held on the following dates. Please update your calendars. For assistance or information regarding this bi-monthly call, please contact Kev Campbell or call her at 406.841.2887. 
    • April 22
    • May 27
    • July 22
    • September 23
    • November 25
  • April 20, 2020—Region/CVB 3rd Quarter FY20 Financial Reports Due
  • May 4, 2020—Region/CVB FY21 Marketing Plans due to MOTBD in WebGrants
  • June 8-9, 2020—TAC Meeting 
  • July 20, 2020—Region/CVB 4th Quarter FY20 Financial Reports Due
  • October 5-6, 2020—TAC Meeting 
  • February 8-9, 2021—TAC Meeting 
  • June 14-15, 2021—TAC Meeting 


Tourism Grant Program

COVID-19 Special Presentation by the Destination Development Association (DDA)

Due to the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19, the coronavirus is now sweeping countries around the world and the industry we all love - tourism and downtowns - is being severely impacted.

In this special presentation by the DDA available on youtube, the DDA offers a dozen ideas for helping to mitigate the effects the pandemic is having on us: destination marketing organizations, downtown associations, downtown retail shops and eateries.

We want to make it perfectly clear that the DDA is not suggesting anything that would fly in the face of what local and national leadership is advocating or mandating. This is a fluid situation and there is no one size fits all solution. Presentation materials are available on the Tools & Resources section of the Tourism Grant Program page at

Made in Montana

Several of our Made in Montana/Taste our Place distilleries are re-purposing their operations to make hand sanitizers for hospitals, health care workers and first responders. Here are some local headlines highlighting their efforts to fight COVID-19:

  • Bozeman Spirits (Bozeman)—Read more from Explore Big Sky here.
  • Headframe Spirits (Butte)—Read more from the Montana Standard here.
  • Montgomery Distillery (Missoula)—Read more from KPAX here
  • Trailhead Spirits (Billings)—Read more from the Billings Gazette here.
  • Wildrye Distilling (Bozeman)—Read more from KBZK here

As we continue to practice social distancing, supporting local businesses is now more important than ever. Support your local Taste or Place establishments by ordering takeout or delivery. Purchase gift cards from your favorite retailer or shop directly from your favorite Made in Montana producer online. Visit to find Made in Montana producers and retailers near you.  

Follow along on our Facebook and Instagram as we share highlights from the 2020 Made in Montana Tradeshow Wholesale Buyer Day! 

Montana Film Office

International Wildlife Film Festival Will Be Online This Year

The International Wildlife Film Festival is one of the biggest film events of the year in Missoula, and for the last several years, it's been hosted by the Roxy Theater. The Roxy is still set to host... but of course, because of the Coronavirus-related closures, they can't exactly have crowds of people coming into the theater for a full week. Read more from 107.5 ZOO FM here

Best Marketing Practices

Explore Whitefish COVID-19 Messaging for Travelers

Tourism partner, Explore Whitefish, has successfully implemented messaging and communications in the past to visitors and residents alike during times of crisis such as wildfires and other natural- or human-caused events impacting travel and everyday life in the Flathead.

Again, this thoughtful planning is behind the current creative and meaningful content being delivered through the organization’s website and social media channels such as YouTube. According to Dylan Boyle, Executive Director of Explore Whitefish, their organization, along with leaders throughout the community have crafted videos and web content that instead of asking visitors to come, directs them that now is not the time to travel and visit Whitefish and Glacier National Park.

The messaging also includes resources to aid businesses and residents in the community, such as updates, grant-writing and business assistance, along with ways to help support the community during the crisis…and of course, to plan trips once “the air clears”.

Tribal News

Checkpoints Set up on Crow Reservation to Prevent Spread of COVID-19

Tribal officials opened a series of checkpoints Sunday to limit travel on the Crow Reservation and the spread of COVID-19 in tribal communities.

One checkpoint was to stop out-of-state residents from entering tribal lands, and another checkpoint was to determine the nature of business someone might have coming onto Crow Tribe land, Tribal Chairman Alvin "A.J." Not Afraid said Sunday afternoon.

"If the business isn't recreational, we are kindly asking them to either carry on or turn around," Not Afraid said. For now, the plan is to maintain the checkpoints until April 10. Read more from the Billings Gazette here

Outdoor Recreation

Montana FWP Adjusts Facility Management in Response to COVID-19; State Lands Remain Open for Day Use

Montanans are lucky to have so many opportunities to get outdoors and recreate, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. And while Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks encourages recreation outside, we also encourage careful planning and prudence. The safety of the public and FWP staff is of utmost concern.

As a reminder, social distancing guidelines should be followed at all FWP sites. Keep your distance from fellow recreators. If a parking lot at a fishing access site or state park is full, consider another place to recreate. Also, in keeping with Gov. Steve Bullock’s directive, FWP asks that all people stay close to home and recreate in their local community.

State parks, fishing access sites and wildlife management areas remain open for day use only.

  • Overnight camping will not be allowed. Campgrounds will be systematically closed, giving current campers 72-hour notice
  • Group use sites will be closed, including playgrounds
  • Visitor center closures will be extended at least through April 10
  • Bathrooms at many locations will be limited due to public and employee safety concerns, because of the current lack of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. Sites will be regularly patrolled by enforcement staff.
  • Specific sites may close to address groups gathering, public health and safety, FWP employee safety or resource damage.

At this time, regularly scheduled hunting seasons are not cancelled. This includes spring turkey season, which starts April 11, and spring bear season, which starts April 15. However, hunters should practice social distancing and all COVID-19 response directives from the governor, including limiting group gatherings and keeping six feet away from people.

Hunters should also keep this in mind when planning for their hunts. If hunting on private land, landowner permission is required, but should be sought by email or phone, not in person.

These are trying times for everyone, and we all know that going outside is one important way to stay healthy,” said FWP director Martha Williams. “Like the governor, I trust Montanans to understand the importance of social distancing while recreating outside. Stay close to home when looking for a place to recreate, and please follow the governor’s directives.”

As a reminder, the deer and elk application deadline is April 1. FWP offices are closed to public access, but anglers and hunters can purchase licenses or apply online. For those who need assistance with their purchase, please call the FWP licensing center at 406-444-2950. Visitor centers and public meeting spaces at offices, state parks and fish hatcheries are also temporarily closed. For up to date information, click here

Please help FWP protect the resources that are so valuable to all Montanans.

National Parks in Montana, Utah Join Growing List of Closures to Prevent Coronavirus Spread

Three more of America's most popular national parks have closed their gates as pressure mounts on superintendents to prevent crowded trails that could lead to more spread of the coronavirus, even as the Trump administration sticks to its decision to waive entrance fees at the parks.

Glacier in Montana and Arches and Canyonlands in Utah announced their decisions to close Friday night, just days after several other well-known parks such as Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the Great Smoky Mountains did the same. Read more from USA Today here


Self-Responding to the 2020 Census is More Important than Ever for Montana

All Montanans can now fill out their 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail – even without receiving an official invitation to participate. The 2020 Census is available to fill out now online at, by phone at 1.844.330.2020, or via mail if a household has received a paper questionnaire.

With the U.S. Census Bureau suspending all field operations across the nation due to COVID-19, it is critical that Montanans self-respond to the 2020 Census questionnaire, even if the household has not received their 12-digit Census ID code.

In Montana, more than 35 percent of homes do not receive mail at a traditional household address, which leaves many Montanans at risk of being undercounted because the U.S. Census Bureau does not mail to post office boxes or rural route addresses. The U.S. Census Bureau will not be in contact with these households until they restart their door-to-door operations. This means a large portion of Montana will not receive U.S. Census Bureau communication or reminders to fill out their form until much later than planned.

Montanans who have not received their Census ID can simply start the online questionnaire and then select the option “If you do not have a Census ID, click here” or call in their response. This option will ask one additional question about where a respondent will be on April 1, 2020 and then participants will be able to fill out the remainder of their form.

The live self-response rate map, which the U.S. Census Bureau updates daily, shows Montana as one of the states with the lowest self-response rates. This is due in-part to the large share of P.O. boxes and rural route addresses in Montana.

Counting everyone in Montana is critical because it determines the state’s share of federal funding over the next decade, it shapes local voting districts, and it determines whether Montana will get another representative in Congress.

Montana receives an estimated $2 billion in federal funds each year based on Census data. For every Montana resident counted, a Census study estimates the state will receive $20,000 over the decade for things like schools, healthcare and highways.

Learn more at CENSUS.MT.GOV.

Other News

REAL ID Deadline Extension

The deadline for obtaining a voluntary REAL ID is being postponed due to COVID-19. The new deadline will be October 1, 2021

Other Dates/Events to Note

September 14-16, 2020The 2020 Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit (Great Falls)—Led by the Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation and co-hosted by the Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council and Montana Trails Coalition, this summit is an enhanced follow-up to the 2018 inaugural full Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit.

This year's summit is capped at 350 participants from Montana, The Greater Crown of the Continent Region and beyond, ranging from industry, community and conservation. The summit will offer tools that will help facilitate interaction between attendees and create concrete opportunities to utilize and integrate into future work. Registration opens on May 4, 2020. To learn more, click here

October 4-6, 2020Northwest USA Spotlight Tourism Conference (Helena)—Previously scheduled for May, this tourism conference which is attended by qualified tour operators and suppliers, has been rescheduled for October 4-6, 2020. For more information, click here

October 6-8, 2020—The 2020 NAISMA Annual Conference is the organization’s 27th Annual Conference (Whitefish)—Co-Sponsored with the Montana Invasive Species Council, the conference will include field trips to visit Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, and surrounding natural areas. Concurrent sessions will present new techniques and technologies, standards, climate change impacts and adaptation strategies, biocontrol updates, forest pests, feral hogs, new invasive species on the horizon, aquatic invasive species management, education and awareness brands, Cooperative Weed Management Area successes, cross-jurisdictional strategies, and much more. To learn more, click here