Friday Flash 4/17/2020

Friday Flash Banner

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 wants to hear from you

Governor Steve Bullock has launched the Coronavirus Relief Fund Task Force to provide guidance and advice on how to best use $1.25 billion appropriated to Montana through the Federal CARES Act to assist workers, businesses, and sectors of the economy impacted by COVID-19.

In addition to the 26-member task force, the Governor is seeking public input on how to best put the $1.25 billion to use. 

Send your suggestions here

Update on Coronavirus’ Impact on American Travel–Week of April 13 from Destination Analysts

Americans Will Approach Travel Cautiously and Differently Post Pandemic

Key Findings to Know this Week

  • Americans are feeling somewhat better that the worst of COVID-19 in the U.S. may soon be over. The percent feeling the coronavirus situation in the United States will get better in the next month nearly doubled to 29.5% from 15.4%.

  • While nearly 70 percent continue to say they miss travel, few will jump right back in when the coronavirus situation has passed. Nine in ten American travelers say they will approach travel carefully with at least some trepidation.

  • It will not be a simple return to pre-pandemic sentiments and behaviors: Now, nearly 40 percent of American travelers say they will change the types of destinations they choose to visit when they begin traveling again—this is up nearly 10 percentage points from just one week ago.

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.

U.S. Travel Association Continues to Fight for the Travel Industry and Its Workers

The coronavirus pandemic is a challenge unlike anything our industry has ever faced. The economic pain that our members are feeling coupled with the worries we all have for the livelihoods of our employees is very real. Our industry has seen many weeks of few to no customers, no revenue and little help. We don’t know when the worst of the crisis will be over, much less when normal life can resume.

There is important work to be done to make sure travel businesses survive through the height of the pandemic to the eventual recovery phase. The relief package passed by Congress, the CARES Act, contained numerous measures we had championed to make immediate aid available to our industry. But several provisions require enhancements or corrections to ensure all segments —particularly destination marketing organizations—receive the assistance they need to sustain themselves through this crisis. To read more, click here

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

Bike Walk Southwest Montana Finds Alternative Ways to Engage with Local & Regional Bicyclists and Walkers During COVID-19 Crisis

In 2019, Bike Walk Southwest Montana was awarded a tourism grant to develop a bicycle camp in Dillon. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bicycle travelers have been stopped from crossing state lines with the 14 day traveler quarantine in effect and European riders will likely have difficulty getting flights to the USA.

Larry Volkening, Bike Walk Southwest Montana Chair says they plan to offer clinics and workshops that focus on local and regional issues pertaining to bicycling and walking – like trail etiquette , bicycle maintenance, and rider safety.

We hope that tourism related industries are taking this time to also explore inexpensive ideas that can be implemented to help your organization and community through this crisis and potentially help build long term success with your locals and your region. Stay healthy.

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

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.  

Made in Montana Members Helping with COVID-19 Efforts

Coaster Cylcles—A New Face: Montana Cycle Company Turns to Safety Shields
—An up-and-coming manufacturer faced with a down-and-out market is reinventing itself in the coronavirus crisis, bringing back laid-off workers and hiring more. Coaster Cycles, maker of three-wheeled cycles that are shipped around the world, is adjusting to a world that suddenly and temporarily doesn’t need the things.

Assembly began Friday in a historic stone building on the Bonner mill site on face shields for health care workers. The first shipment of what will ultimately be 500,000 is set for Tuesday to 51 Providence hospitals in six states, including St. Patrick in Missoula and St. Joseph in Polson.

And last week Justin Bruce, chief operating officer at the Bonner plant since its inception in 2015, received confirmation of an initial order of another 150,000 shields to the New York City Department of Health, to be shipped within 20 days. Read more from the Missoulian here

REcreate designs—Mask Making Mission—REcreate designs has pulled together to get kits and supplies out to make over 5000 masks for local hospitals, and employees for various businesses as well as individuals. The 1/8" elastic is adjustable, and the knots can slide to have a better fit around the head and neck. There is a slot on the backside to allow an insert or N-95 mask to fit in. Twist ties have been inserted on the top and can be pinched around the nose. You can purchase a pre-made mask or a kit to make your own. You can also donate to their efforts if you just want to help to get masks where they are needed. For more information, click here

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. For updates and resources from Brand USA, click here

Best Marketing Practices

Glacier Country Responds to COVID-19 Crisis with a Message to Potential Travelers to the Area: Love Now, Explore Later

As an organization, our purpose is to attract visitors to Western Montana, but in the current state our messaging has obviously changed,” said Racene Friede, President and CEO of Glacier Country Tourism. “Our purpose now is to remind travelers that now is not the right time to come to Montana, give them a little future travel inspiration, and welcome them back when the time is right.”

Tourism is one of the top two largest economic sectors in Montana, and Western Montana receives approximately one-third of all tourists to the state. Hundreds of businesses in the region depend on tourism for their livelihood. “We recognize that many of our partner businesses will be severely impacted by the global pandemic, so we’re hoping to get the pipeline filled and hit the ground running when it’s deemed appropriate.” You can watch Glacier Country's "Love Now, Explore Later" video below. 

Glacier Country LNEL

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


BillingsBillings Museum Calling for all Montana Artists to Contribute to Online COVID-19 Exhibit—In Billings, the Western Heritage Center is calling for Montana artists of all ages working with all mediums to submit work to be featured in an online exhibit titled, Art in Isolation: Response to COVID-19.

"The online exhibit … is specifically about peoples creative responses to the current crisis," said Lauren Hunley, community historian with the Western Heritage Center. Artwork must be original and submitted online by April 20 to be considered. Artists must be Montana residents and their work must be created in response to COVID-19. The free-to-view, all-online exhibit is scheduled to be live on the Heritage Center's website by April 24, Hunley said. 

All kinds of art will be considered for inclusion in the exhibit: paintings, drawings, photography, music, dances and sewn works among others. Read more at KBZK here

Outdoor Recreation

Bureau of Reclamation Closes Sites to Camping

The Bureau of Reclamation is temporarily restricting overnight camping and group-use areas at its recreation sites east of the Continental Divide in Montana.

Boat ramps and day-use sites will remain open where possible, however courtesy boat docks are not in place.

Places where the temporary restrictions are being enacted include: Canyon Ferry Reservoir, Tiber Reservoir (Lake Elwell), Fresno Reservoir, Nelson Reservoir, and Clark Canyon Reservoir.

The restrictions at each area include: Day-use areas open. No overnight camping. Group-use sites are closed. Bathroom facilities at all locations are closed. Marinas remain closed for the season until about mid-May. This opening is tentative and may be re-evaluated depending on the COVID-19 situation.

As a reminder, social distancing and other guidance put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should be followed at each of these facilities. Guidance can be found at CDC.GOV.


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

Tourism Marketing and Coronavirus: Decisions Now are Key to What Happens Later

Work and planning now will determine your success when travel re-opens.

The world is in the throes of a horrendous pandemic. National economies are “on ice” as spending grinds to a halt. Millions of people are trying to sort out working remotely, IF they can keep their jobs. Travel and tourism activity is largely suspended, and destination marketers are in the odd position of telling everyone to stay home.

It’s so hard to keep any sort of focus right now, we know. The best advice we can think of for this moment is… the decisions you make now will determine how you come out of this. Read more from the Tourism Currents blog here

National Travel and Tourism Week

Join the U.S. Travel Association in honoring the #SpiritOfTravel May 3-9 for National Travel and Tourism Week

The coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency is having an unprecedented impact on the travel industry and the entire economy. Now more than ever, the travel and tourism community must come together, support each other and remind our country that even through the most difficult times, the Spirit of Travel cannot be broken.

The NTTW Toolkit is full of resources including: 

For more resources and information on how you can get involved with National Travel and Tourism Week, click here. Watch the 2020 Spirit of Travel theme video below. 

Spirit of Travel

Funding Resources

USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Residents, Businesses and Communities Affected by COVID-19

USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America.

Read the full announcement here to learn more about the opportunities USDA Rural Development is implementing to provide immediate relief to our customers, partners, and stakeholders

USDA’s COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide Lists Federal Programs That Can Help Rural Communities, Organizations and Residents Impacted by COVID-19

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Monday unveiled a one-stop-shop of federal programs that can be used by rural communities, organizations and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide is a first-of-its-kind resource for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address this pandemic.
Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities preparing for and impacted by COVID-19,” Perdue said. “This resource guide will help our rural leaders, whether they are in agriculture, education, health care or any other leadership capacity, understand what federal assistance is available for their communities during this unprecedented time.”

USDA has taken many immediate actions to assist farmers, ranchers, producers, rural communities, and rural-based businesses and organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on these actions, click here

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