Friday Flash 4/10/2020

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Yellowstone Country

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

Governor Bullock Extends Directives Issued to Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic

Governor Steve Bullock on Tuesday extended through April 24 Directives he issued to protect Montanans from COVID-19 by slowing the spread of the virus in Montana. The Directives were set to expire on April 10.

We know that staying home will help to flatten the curve. For every person we take out of the chain of transmission of this virus, the more likely our health care facilities can handle the capacity to respond, and the more likely we can beat back this virus sooner rather than later,” Governor Bullock said. “We stay at home to ensure that our health care workers and first responders have adequate time to receive the supplies to keep them, their patients, and their families safe. We stay home to protect Montanans in our rural communities and our rural health care workers who face long distances to access care.”

We also stay home so that we can more quickly rebuild to a thriving economy. It is not a choice between a healthy population and a healthy economy -- the two go hand in hand. Managing this public health crisis now will help to prevent long-term consequences that could upend our economy for a longer duration and with a worse outcome,” continued Governor Bullock.

The extension covers the stay at home order, school closures, on-premises dining and beverage operations, eviction and foreclosure suspensions and the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for travelers coming into Montana for non-work-related travel.

Tuesday's Directive extends from April 10 through April 24th the following Directives:

  • Closing all non-residential public schools in Montana. Previous Directive issued March 15 and previously extended through April 10.
  • Closing certain on-premises dining and beverage businesses while expanding and encouraging delivery, takeout, and drive-up options. Previous Directive issued March 24.
  • Extending the stay at home Directive except for certain essential activities, temporarily closing non-essential businesses, provided social distancing requirements, and limited non-essential travel. Previous Directive issued March 26.
  • Limiting evictions, foreclosures, and disconnections for the duration of the Stay at Home Directive. Previous Directive issued March 30.
  • Requiring a 14-day self-quarantine for individuals arriving in Montana for non-work-related travel. Previous Directive issued March 30, which followed Governor Bullock’s travel advisory on March 19th.

Other Directives issued or actions taken in response to the statewide emergency do not need to be extended as they will stay in effect for the duration of the emergency or even longer. Those actions include: designating childcare facilities as essential businesses, bolstering food security for Montana families, expanding telemedicine services to Medicaid patients, issuing emergency rules to make unemployment benefits accessible to workers laid off due to COVID-19, emergency loans for small businesses through the Small Business Administration, and calling for the census deadline to be extended until at least September 30.

Travel FAQ

Is travel allowed? What about for out of state visitors?
All travel should be limited to essential travel and travel for essential activities. People riding on public transit must comply with social distancing to the greatest extent feasible. When individuals need to leave their homes or residences, they should maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any person who is not a member of their immediate household, to the greatest extent possible.

Out of state visitors are not restricted at this time, though everyone in Montana is subject to this order and required to minimize risk of exposure and transmission by limiting travel and activities outside of their homes.

Are road closures in place anywhere in Montana?

What is considered "essential travel?"
Essential Travel includes travel for any of the following purposes:

  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to Essential Activities, Essential Businesses and Operations, or Minimum Basic Operations.
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons.
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services.
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction.
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the State. Individuals are strongly encouraged to verify that their transportation out of the State remains available and functional prior to commencing such travel.

Quarantine for Travelers Arriving in Montana

Do I have to quarantine if I come into the state? What if I’m working?
Yes, visitors from out-of-state are required to self-quarantine for 14 days or for the duration of their visit- whichever is shorter. Individuals coming to the state for work- related travel are exempt from this requirement.

Do people staying at a vacation rental need to self-quarantine?
Yes, any visitor from another state or country traveling to Montana for non-work- related purposes, must self-quarantine for 14-days or the duration of their stay.

Additional Information:

  • Everyone who travels to Montana from another state or country for non-work purposes must self-quarantine for 14-days or the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter.
  • Any person who has already arrived in Montana from another state or country for a non-work related purpose before the date of this Directive must immediately self- quarantine for the remainder of a 14-day period beginning on the date of their arrival in Montana, or until their departure from Montana—whichever is sooner.
  • Exclusions to this directive include public safety, public health, healthcare works, travelers passing through on their way to another destination, and travelers visiting for work purposes.
  • If you are self-quarantining you cannot leave for groceries, public outdoor recreation, to go to work or any other activity. You must remain at your place of quarantine for the duration of the quarantine period. Exceptions will only be made in the event of a medical emergency, fire, natural disaster or other act of God preventing the ongoing healthful habitation of a residence.
  • The Montana Department of Commerce will advise persons listing hotels, rental properties, or other short-term rentals in Montana—including but not limited to listings on such services as Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, and related services—to include notice of the mandatory quarantine for travelers from another state or country.

Directive is mandatory, not optional. It can be enforced by DPHHS, the Attorney General, county attorney or other local authorities at the direction of a county attorney.

Travel-Related Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Nearly 94% of Montana’s travel-related businesses said they have been impacted by COVID-19, and 83% of Montana residents and visitors to the state are concerned about their personal health.

This is according to surveys conducted March 11-27 by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research (ITRR) at the University of Montana.

The ITRR business survey found that cancellations happened to 83% of participating businesses during the last two weeks of March. April cancellations hit 84% of these businesses, with accommodations and outfitter/guides receiving the highest number. Read the full report from ITRR here

Update on Coronavirus’ Impact on American Travel–Week of April 6 from Destination Analysts

American Travelers Start Looking to Fall as Near-Term Concerns Grow

Key Findings to Know this Week

  • Concern about personally contracting the virus has been steadily increasing among travelers in the Midwest and Northeast, with those in the Northeast feeling the most concern.
  • After a small dip last week, concern about the virus’ impact on travelers’ personal finances is back up (7.0 on a 10-point scale).
  • More travel was affected in the last week: now 72.8% say they have had travel affected by the coronavirus situation. 65.3% cancelled a trip; the highest rate in the last four weeks. There is an uptick in cancellations reported in May and June.
  • The percent who feel the coronavirus situation will get worse in the U.S. next month has grown to 70.3% (from 66.5% a week ago). Those confident that coronavirus will be resolved by the summer travel season plummeted to 31.0%.
  • Nevertheless, 53.1% of American travelers say they expect they will be traveling in the Fall. The percent who say they have trip plans in September and later in 2020 have ticked up.
  • Even more travelers say they miss traveling this week–69.1% can’t wait to travel again, up from 63.0%.
  • After the pandemic, half of American travelers say they will avoid crowded destinations (49.8%).

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here.

DMO/Website Importance Study—Free Tracking Research for DMOs

Destination Analysts is facilitating a study to measure the importance of DMOs and their marketing/communications assets in a period of crisis, through a survey of users of DMO websites. This complimentary study will provide key insights into users of official DMO websites—and other marketing assets– throughout the COVID-19 crisis, in order to:

  • Understand in-depth WHO is currently using the website, as well as HOW and WHY these audiences are using it.
  • Demonstrate the value of the DMO and its official website—as a local community, B2B, and traveler resource.
  • Quantify the efforts of the DMO in supporting its local tourism and hospitality and greater community.
  • Develop metrics that DMOs can use to advocate for the organization, its marketing efforts and its budget.
  • Show the DMO’s efforts in supporting businesses, partners, the greater tourism and hospitality industry and the local community.

The brief website user survey, which appears on your DMO’s website, will:

  • Identify the TYPE of website user: local resident, local business owner, meeting/event planner, journalist, traveler who postponed/cancelled a trip, potential visitor looking for trip inspiration, etc.
  • Collect information on WHY these audiences are using the website.
  • Capture opinions and assessments of the VALUE and IMPORTANCE of the content
  •  Provide an opportunity to collect messages of support for the local tourism and hospitality community.

Analytics Integration
The Website User Survey integrates with Google Analytics to provide a wealth of deeper insights including an analysis of site behaviors by different user groups—for example, comparing top pages, page views, and time on site of different audiences such as local residents, local business owners, potential visitors, and meeting & event planners.

All participating DMOs will receive:

  • Regular reporting of the findings, which will be made available online and in PowerPoint format
  • Anonymized aggregate findings in order to demonstrate the value of Destination Marketing Organizations

Sign Up to Participate
Participation is free and only requires you install the javascript we provide you on your website, in order for the survey to appear. Please complete the form here to sign up to participate. Confirmation and next steps will be sent to you shortly thereafter.

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 Partner Resources

We have updated the Tourism Partner Resource page at to include tourism related COVID-19 resources. 

Tourism Grant Program

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

Due to the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19, the regularly scheduled Wednesday webinar series hosted by the Tourism Grant Program is postponed until we have better and brighter tourism industry related news to share.

However, special presentations by the DDA are available on YouTube which offer a few 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

Governor's Conference on Tourism & Recreation

Montana Tourism Awards

While the annual Governor's Conference on Tourism & Recreation has been rescheduled for April 18-20, 2021, the 2020 Montana Tourism Award winners will be announced in early May. Stay tuned as we honor the outstanding tourism work in Montana online.

Made in Montana

Choose Local

Now, more than ever, it is important to encourage local, community support. Destination Missoula launched their #MoreMissoulaThanEver campaign to do just that. Check out their recent video below.

As we continue to practice social distancing, you can support your local Taste or Place establishments by ordering takeout or delivery. You can also 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.  


International Marketing

Brand USA Provides Resources and an Important Message to Tourism Partners

COVID-19 has changed the way we conduct our businesses and our lives. Brand USA provides a platform for the U.S. travel and tourism industry to compete on a level playing field for international visitors and their spending. They have pioneered cooperative marketing platforms and programs that leverage and grow the USA brand in ways our partners would be challenged or unable to do on their own.

Brand USA is fortunate to have a funding model that insulates the resources entrusted to them by partners and the federal government from systemic shocks like this. In short, they are well-positioned to help you navigate these turbulent times and build the tools to enable you to quickly restart as soon as market conditions allow. 

Brand USA is committed to three basic principles: 

  • Provide guidance, information, and insight
    Brand USA will continue to provide current and relevant information to help partners keep track of the quickly changing travel environment and make crucial decisions about resources. Over 300 partners attended our research webinar on March 19 to engage with primary market data and learn more about our immediate-term plans. We will provide these types of insights on an ongoing basis and invite you to keep tuning in. In addition, many partners have found it useful to bookmark the central repository of coronavirus information, references, and marketing resources at Finally, we will continue to stay in frequent communication with you through our Partner Engagement team and any other means you need.
  • Deliver hope and optimism to our partners and our industry
    Though Brand USA has paused our paid media activities, we are strengthening our engagement with the travel trade and delivering a “Stay Home. Stay Inspired.” message to our followers on social media.

    While so many of our travel trade partners around the world remain at home, Brand USA is keeping them engaged with educational and entertaining information. For example, our USA Discovery Program is localized in 11 countries and offered in 8 languages, and incentives are currently running in most markets with more launching on a regular basis. With over 40,000 active users all over the globe, they are completing certifications and badges at a record pace. We are also conducting virtual trainings of travel agents and tour operators in key source markets. In fact, during the week of March 23, Brand USA trained 1,259 agents over webinars in France, India, and Mexico.

    To engage consumers on social media while they're home and looking for entertainment, we are delivering inspirational content with an empathetic and human tone. For example, we have launched a virtual road trip [] on Instagram Stories that allows our audience to explore the USA while home travel dreaming.

    Over the next six weeks, as folks all over the world are looking for virtual escapes, we will also be launching a number of new video series on our streaming video network, GoUSA TV. You can download GoUSA TV now for free on your connected TV via Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire, or as a mobile app via iOS and Android.                                                 

    To submit videos for consideration on the channel, email or visit here for more details. You will be hearing more from your Partner Engagement representative about how to engage with GoUSA TV in the days ahead.
  • Develop strategic, purpose-driven marketing programs to stimulate international travel Brand USA is using this pause in travel activity to build marketing tools to stimulate active consideration and travel bookings at the first indication conditions are appropriate. Our approach will be specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time bound. I look forward to sharing more of these tools with you in the coming weeks and to working together to bring international visitors back to your communities. 

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

Montana in the News
Tourism Partner Shout-Outs, Recognition and News


Billings/Bozeman'Montana Masks' Pop Up all Over the World, Move from 3D Printers to Injection Molds—The reusable plastic face masks designed for 3D printers by a college graduate and a pair of local medical professionals have gone global. The free open-source software file they created has been downloaded or shared in 148 countries across six continents.

Dubbed the Montana Mask, the design has now made the jump from 3D printers to injection mold production, crafted by the Bozeman company Spark R&D.

That move allows for much faster mass production and gives the masks a more comfortable feel. Injection mold production can use materials that are softer and more flexible than the plastic required by 3D printers.

The story gained national attention and last week a past employee of Spark R&D reached out to the company's owner, Will Ritter, on Facebook asking if there was something Spark could do in its production shop. Read more from the Billings Gazette 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.

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