Friday Flash 4/24/2020

Friday Flash Banner

Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners


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 Announces Plan to Begin Phased Reopening of Montana

Governor Bullock on Wednesday announced a gradual and phased reopening of the state beginning Sunday for individuals, and extending to businesses on Monday.

There are very few states in the country that can say they have seen the number of positive cases decline over these past weeks. Montana can say that because, together, we have made that decline in cases possible,” Governor Bullock said. “While there is reason for optimism this is not a time for celebration. I am going to ask Montanans to continue to go to great lengths to protect one another, to continue looking out for our neighbors who need it the most, and to continue being vigilant in every step we take.”

The plan to reopen gradually was is based on the latest scientific evidence and data, and in consultation with public health experts, health care providers, business leaders, and emergency management professionals. The Governor’s plan is detailed in a Directive and accompanying Appendix with guidelines for certain industries. 

The plan includes several phases and details the factors that will determine when it is appropriate to move to the second phase of reopening. This decision will be driven by conditions on the ground and the latest data. Governor Bullock and his task force will continue to monitor cases closely and carefully to analyze Montana’s work to contain the virus. You can read the full announcement here

The Directive and its Appendix with reopening guidelines are posted online at

Other Resources:

NOTE: The March 30 Directive that stated travelers arriving from another state or country to Montana for non-work-related purposes undergo a 14-day self-quarantine has been extended through the end of the emergency. For the full Directive, click here. 

Update on Coronavirus’ Impact on American Travel–Week of April 20 from Destination Analysts

As American travelers increasingly feel better that the worst of the coronavirus may soon be over, one-in-five say a trip will be one of their first post-shelter-in-place activities.

Key Findings to Know this Week

  • American travelers continue to feel better that the worst of COVID-19 may be on the horizon. Now 34.1% think the situation will improve in the U.S. in the next month, up from 29.5% last week. The impact they feel the pandemic will have on their personal finances is at a five-week low (6.6 on a 10-point scale).
  • Excitement levels towards taking a getaway in the next month remain low but are at a 5-week high (4.5/10.0). Similarly, interest in learning about travel destinations remains low but is also at the highest its been since March 15th (5.1/10.0). Boomers’ motivation to travel because of discounts and deals bounced back (up to 35.8% from 25.3% a week ago).
  • When presented a list of leisure and personal activities and asked to select the first things they were going to do when shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted, 22.5% said taking a trip would be among their top 5 activities.
  • Regarding timing, American travelers increasingly don’t believe or are unsure that the pandemic will be resolved by the summer travel season (44.5% disagree it will). The number reporting trip cancellations increased (70.3% from 66.9%), particularly in May and June. Nevertheless, 51.2% continue to feel they will be traveling by Fall, with reported increases in travel plans for September and October.
  • The number of American travelers saying they will choose regional rather than long-haul destinations for leisure travel this year continues to grow and is at the highest recorded level since this study began.
  • 36.5% of American travelers say they agree to some degree with the statement “I’m not traveling until there is a vaccine”; 43.2% disagree. Younger travelers were actually the most likely to agree they may not travel until there is a vaccine.
  • 77.4% of American travelers say they would approve of mandatory health screenings for flights between destinations inside the continental United States. 76.5% feel positively about the notion of mandatory health screenings at airports and 61.2% say such measures will increase their confidence traveling to a destination.
  • Not the time? Over two-thirds of American travelers say they do not want other travelers coming to their community right now.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here.

Save the Dates...

  • Tourism Partner Call—This regularly scheduled call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 19 CVBs and specific industry stakeholders. Upcoming meetings are listed below. Please update your calendars. For assistance or information regarding this bi-monthly call, please contact Kev Campbell or call her at 406.841.2887. 
    • May 27
    • July 22
    • September 23
    • November 25
  • 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 


Staff Updates


We are very pleased to announce that we have filled our open Social Media Specialist position on the MOTBD marketing team by hiring Jacquie Garcia. Many of you are familiar with Jacquie because of her previous roles on the MOTBD marketing team.

Jacquie started with MOTBD in 2016 when she was hired as the marketing assistant. In 2017, she was selected to fill the Publications Specialist position. In both of these roles, Jacquie has helped to support our content and social media efforts, gaining great experience along the way. She has enhanced her design and marketing skills through training and many on-the-job experiences. She brings a keen eye for design, a deep knowledge of the Montana brand, and great insight and enthusiasm for enhancing our social media efforts. Jacquie started in her new role on April 13. 

Tourism Partner Resources

Please visit the Tourism Partner Resource page at for tourism related COVID-19 resources and information. 

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.  

Grown in Montana

Missoula-Area Beef Producers See Big Spike in Demand

Apparently there’s nothing like a locally raised steak to get Missoulians through a long home isolation and boost the economy. Missoula-area cattle ranching operations have seen a big uptick in sales during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers stock up on meat in order to avoid going to the grocery store.

Carly Lewis is an ex-vegetarian-turned rancher in Frenchtown. She and her family, husband Jim and sone Clay, run Triple L Livestock. She said business has been great the last few weeks.

We’ve definitely seen new interest from people in buying local meat,” she said. “I would say in the last month we sold like 800 pounds of ground burger. I think folks are looking for local sources a little bit more, and realizing that food security is something they’ve taken for granted in the past. “

For people looking for vegetables, the Western Montana Growers Cooperative and farms like Missoula Grain and Vegetable Co. are taking online orders and getting food to customers with minimum or no contact. Read more in this article from the Missoulian here

Montana Film Office

Mexico’s Laura Plancarte on Making Montana-Set Doc ‘Non Western

We are so pleased to bring you this article from VARIETY about one of the Big Sky Film Grant recipients, whose film is about the human experience, and featuring complex, vibrant Montanans. It’s projects like these that capture the nuance of living here, the challenges and rewards that make the Big Sky Grant Program especially rewarding. 

One of the buzz films at Visions Du Reel, Mexican filmmaker Laura Plancarte’s Montana-set “Non Western” explores the romantic journey of Thaddeus, a Cheyenne native, and Nanci, a Caucasian, and the challenges their interracial union faces. Through them, Plancarte explores the chains of oppression that persist from one generation to another.

Thaddeus and Nanci were all set to travel to Visions du Reel in Switzerland when the coronavirus pandemic scuttled those plans, said Plancarte, who has lived in London for the past 11 years since winning a grant from BNP Paribas in recognition of her career as an artist. Read more from VARIETY 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

Heritage/Cultural News

Montana Heritage Commission

The following are some updates from the Montana Heritage Commission (MHC) including public relation efforts and HB652 preservation projects still progressing and coming to completion.

Public relation efforts:

  • This MHC/Town of Virginia City “6 feet back” quarantine video is for public relations and to keep our heritage sites safe. Elijah Allen, MHC Executive Director would like to say thank you to the local leadership, state representatives, county commissioners, the Virginia City fire department, and his 16 year old daughter Madison who coordinated and directed the project.
  • MHC ad in the Madisonian telling our local citizens that we are here to help with emergency essentials.
  • The 1 year Anniversary of the Virginia City Village Pump and Information Center with a net profit of $23, 566.00 that has gone towards future preservation projects and to celebrate,
    “The Village Pump will be beating “The Town Pump” in prices till Memorial Day weekend and to help mitigate expenses for those traveling for emergency essentials.

Preservation updates and completion on projects:

  • Opera House and Day-light Village Seasonal Housing with 35 more units with showers to help service the 42 business who have seasonal help.
  • The finalization of the Nevada City Fire Pump to service the NC Museum, Hotels, Cabins, Saloons and Restaurants.
  • The Bale of Hay and Wells Fargo Restaurant receiving much needed updates to be compliant with sanitation and department of liquor requirements.

Assuming no Federal and State restrictions are in place with the COVID-19, Elijah is optimistic that the MHC will have a very successful season as people will be wanting to get out of their homes to come visit our America’s National Parks and find out why Virginia and Nevada City are Montana’s number one state owned tourist destination for the 10th consecutive year!!!

Outdoor Recreation

Montana FWP Survey

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is redesigning its website to better address the needs of the public. They are hoping to make the site more user-friendly while providing relevant, useful and clear information. To achieve this, they need your input!

Please take this short survey so they can learn more about you and how they can improve their website to better meet your needs and expectations.

A Message from the Montana Dude Ranchers' Association

About Montana Dude Ranchers' Association
The Montana Dude Ranchers’ Association promotes and markets the traditional western ranch experience. It supports the highest quality standards and the future of the industry by fostering educational opportunities while encouraging the sharing of ideas and experiences. 

A Vacation to Soothe the Soul
When all are healed and the stay at home and social distancing sanctions are lifted, we are all going to want to seek solace, peace and comfort as well as new adventures. Montana offers just that kind of experience. With 147,040 square miles of Mother Nature in all her grandeur including mountain ranges, rivers, wilderness, forests, national and state parks and more, it’s an ideal place to bounce back to normal.

Our ranch vacations are a part of that experience. Guest ranches are an integral part of the tourism industry in Montana, offering folks a western experience which is off the beaten path amidst the most spectacular scenery you’ve ever seen. Unwind in log cabins or lodges while enjoying home cooked meals and desserts. Enjoy exploring all that a ranch has to offer – fishing, hiking and riding are the main activities, while some ranches offer archery, pack trips in the wilderness, rafting and other adventures. From your ranch base you can visit nearby local attractions and our charming small towns.

We invite you to consider a Montana vacation this year. Our doors are open and you are welcome to stay as long as you want. After all, it’s the fourth largest state in the USA, so there’s plenty of territory to cover.

For more information on a ranch vacation, visit Montana Dude Ranchers’ Association at You can also read their blog or follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Best Marketing Practices

While many of our partners are in a holding pattern with the current pandemic, there is a silver lining for some who have unexpected downtime that may be an opportunity to work on projects or activities that organizations seem to never have time for.

Here are some suggestions shared by marketing professionals:

  • Clean up to-do lists and celebrate when items are checked off.
  • Update your business listings. Visit the Tourism Partner Resource Page  for business tools to claim your business or create a business listing, create an event listing, or add an image to an existing listing. 
  • Organize everything from physical spaces to electronic files, naming conventions, organization of work flows, standard operating processes and even the storage room.
  • Check records for retention or destruction dates.
  • Check out the guide to using MOTBD’s online digital asset library in WebDam.  Be sure to check the library regularly for new additions and updates.
  • Identify current operational inefficiencies and develop improvement plans.
  • Plan, develop and schedule social media posts for now and in advance for when the quarantine is lifted and recovery is launched.
  • Audit suppliers, services and look for savings and improvements.
    • Product vendors and suppliers
    • Business and liability insurers
    • Health insurance and benefits providers
    • Attorneys and business consultants
    • Accounting, receivables, tax professionals
    • Marketing and advertising partners and agreements
    • IT service providers, software and applications
    • Ecommerce providers
  • Invest in professional development, use this downtime to strengthen employees’ skills and to gain needed knowledge, skills and abilities to meet future demands. Identify skills gaps and delve into training. Consider paying those employees laid off to take courses or complete training for certification.
  • Read the journals, articles and saved online webinars that are sitting in your inbox.
    Hold online staff retreats with motivational webinars, videos or virtual team-building activities.
  • Do research of other partners, specifically the marketing methods and evaluations from prior years. Universal access in WebGrants allows public to view the completed marketing plans of all tourism regions and CVBs for past four years.

Please share your tips and suggestions on maximizing any downtime you have with our tourism partners. Send an email to

Explore Whitefish Taking Proactive Measures During the COVID-19 Crisis

Explore Whitefish has created some great tools and resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In collaboration with the Whitefish Community Foundation and the City of Whitefish, they have released a new video detailing an innovative program where local restaurants are making meals to feed families through the North Valley Food Bank.

"Dining rooms in Whitefish might be empty right now, but we're still hard at work serving the community through an emergency food access project," said chef Andy Blanton of Cafe Kandahar, who spearheaded the program with Whitefish Lake Restaurant owner, Doug Reed. "It lets us make use of quiet kitchens right now. And we can keep doing what we do best -- feed people."

At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the Whitefish Community Foundation created an Emergency Response Fund to support local nonprofits on the front lines and designated $10,000 to the North Valley Food Bank to seed the "Restaurants Providing Healthy Meals for Families" program.

Chefs take extra special precautions to make sure the food and packaging process are handled safely, minimizing risk for all involved. After they cook and package the meals, the North Valley Food Bank purchases and distributes the portions to individuals, as well as small and large families.

During the first three weeks of the project, eight restaurants delivered over 2000 meals.

Explore Whitefish has also provided the following resources:


It's Never Been Easier to Self-Respond to the Census

Montanans can now begin filling out their Census forms online or by phone at or 1.844.330.2020. Responding to the census is easy, and your official Census ID number is not needed to fill out the form online or by phone. 

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.

  • Did you know that $1 billion each year are allocated for Montana healthcare programs alone. Montana hospitals, clinics, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and more receive funding that depends on an accurate count. 

The Census also provides the critical population data needed to prevent the transmission of communicable and infectious diseases. An undercount means states don’t have the right demographic information when trying to establish rates around disease tracking, outbreaks, and distribute the correct amount of public health resources to impacted areas in Montana. The government and health care providers are currently using census population data at every level to direct efforts and funding during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more at CENSUS.MT.GOV.


The Montana Expression 2020: Residents' Attitudes Towards Tourism

The main purpose of this study was to assess Montanans’ attitudes towards tourism in the state, analyze the 27-year trend line in tourism attitudes, and highlight responses by residents in Montana counties. Residents responded to questions about quality of life in relation to tourism, how they perceive crowding in the state and their community, and the degree to which they feel tourism in their community benefits them economically. Results show an overall positive attitude toward tourism by Montana residents. Five different counties, however, had 50% or more of their residents indicate that their community is becoming overcrowded due to tourism. Read the full report from ITRR here

Other News

Is it Time to Open an Online Store?

Tourism partners (and a lot of DMOs) need income NOW. Is an online store the answer?

Let’s talk about how to approach this issue as destinations try to survive the coronavirus – go here to read our advice about things to do right now to come out of this pandemic in better shape.

Your restaurants and other food-related establishments have probably already scrambled to set up online ordering to support takeout and curbside delivery services. Now some of your other partners (most likely the retail merchants) are wondering if an online store can help get some money into the bank. 

Maybe they’ve been considering it for awhile, and now push has desperately come to shove. Maybe they think they need to “do something on the internet” and a store is all they can think of. Maybe even you as the DMO are ready to try it. Read more from this 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