Friday Flash 7/17/2020

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Blackfoot River

Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Wildfire Updates

The Montana Department of Commerce will again provide relevant wildfire updates for tourism partners and the traveling public at our webpage TRAVELAWARE.MT.GOV. The page will be updated daily or as fire activity impacts popular destination areas.


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.

Tourism Partner Resources

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

Governor Bullock Issues Directive Requiring Face Coverings in Certain Indoor Spaces and Outdoor Gatherings to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Directive applies to counties currently experiencing four or more active cases of COVID-19

Governor Steve Bullock on July 15 issued a directive requiring face coverings in certain indoor spaces and for certain organized outdoor activities in counties currently experiencing four or more active cases of COVID-19 to slow the spread of the virus in Montana.

Governor Bullock issued the directive to require businesses, government offices and other indoor spaces open to the public to ensure that employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, and other members of the public wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose while remaining inside these spaces. The directive also requires face coverings at organized outdoor activities of 50 or more people, where social distancing is not possible or is not observed.

Many Montanans answered the call to mask up – a call that came from our hospitals, nurses, and doctors, our vibrant small business community, our frontline workers, and our high-risk neighbors,” Governor Bullock said. “I thank all of those who take seriously their personal responsibility and their role in stopping COVID-19. But we need even more Montanans, and the visitors who come here, to mask up.”

The directive is in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that people wear cloth face coverings in public and when around people outside one’s household. Additionally, the CDC released a study this week concluding that “mandating the use of face coverings” in a salon in Missouri likely mitigated the spread of COVID-19 and recommended consideration of broader policies requiring face coverings. In the last month, Montana’s active cases of COVID-19 have risen from 55 to more than 1,000.

There’s no reason this needs to be political, because COVID-19 isn’t political. Instead, this is about being a Montanan and being supportive of those around us. Montanans need to not only feel safe, but be safe to continue supporting small businesses like restaurants, breweries, clothing stores, bookshops, and more. And Montanans need to be healthy to work. Mom and pop shops in Montana often have two employees: Mom and Pop themselves. If they get COVID-19, they can’t keep their business running,” continued Governor Bullock.

The directive does not require face coverings in counties with three or fewer active cases or for children under 5, though face coverings are strongly encouraged in both cases. Other exceptions include children under 2, while eating or drinking at businesses that sell food or drinks, during activities that make face coverings unsafe (like strenuous physical exercise or swimming), while giving speeches or performances in front of a socially distanced audience, while receiving medical care or for people with a preexisting condition that would make wearing a face covering unsafe.

Under the directive, businesses, government offices and other publicly operating spaces will provide face coverings for employees and volunteers, and post signs stating that face coverings are required for people 5 and older.

Businesses, other indoor spaces open to the public and sponsors of organized outdoor activities may also deny entry, refuse service or ask any person to leave if they refuse to wear a face covering. If necessary, they may rely on peace officers to enforce the state’s trespassing laws if a person refuses to wear a face covering and refuses to leave the premises.

Local public health agencies and law enforcement should focus their enforcement of this directive on education, providing warnings and education about the risk of transmission, while reserving the imposition of penalties, trespass enforcement, and other formal enforcement mechanisms for only the most egregious, repeat violations that put the public at risk.

The directive goes into effect immediately and expires at the end of the declared statewide state of emergency. The full directive can be found here.

Know Before You Go 

Please note that guidelines for visiting some Montana communities may differ from the State's directives and phased reopening guidelines

  • Missoula—People are now required to wear face masks in indoor public spaces in Missoula County under a rule passed last week by the Missoula City-County Board of Health to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

    The rule is effective immediately and requires people ages 12 and older to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces, including public transportation and ride sharing. Possible exemptions include people who are eating or drinking, or during strenuous physical activities when it might be impractical or unsafe.

  • Whitefish—The Whitefish City Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance requiring face coverings in public spaced to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Everyone must wear a face covering standing in line to enter any businesses. It’s common to see a line of people outside waiting to get into restaurants in downtown Whitefish.

    The ordinance also requires face coverings on public transportation, include shuttles, taxis and private car service. Read more from NBCMontana here

75+ Montana Companies Step Up to Support Pandemic Response

Mask up with Montana-Made Products 

Governor Steve Bullock yesterday praised Montana companies for pivoting their normal operations to produce cloth face masks, 3D-printed face masks, face shields, surgical gowns and hand sanitizer, and reminded businesses that funding is available to help support masking up.

Large and small Montana producers have stepped up in a big way to meet the demands created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Bullock said. “As we ask Montanans to mask up, social distance and remain vigilant when it comes to sanitizing, you can also support Montana-made companies making products to keep our fellow Montanans safe.”

More than 75 Montana businesses have stepped up to make in-demand products and have adapted quickly through the support of the Montana Department of Commerce, Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) at Montana State University. MMEC partners with and is funded through Commerce. Some of these companies have also received grant funds through the Montana Innovation or Business Stabilization programs created in response to the pandemic. 

Businesses that need to purchase protective gear like masks and hand sanitizer may be eligible for reimbursement through the Montana Business Adaptation Program. Organizations may be reimbursed up to $5,000 for eligible expenses. Apply at COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV.

Going from making pedicabs to protective face shields like Bonner-based Coaster Cycles, or from making world-class Gortex fly fishing waders to sewn surgical gowns like Bozeman-based Simms Fishing – these Montana-made companies are doing what they can to slow the spread of COVID-19.

-----> See the list of Montana-made mask and sanitizer producers here.

Montana Tourism Organizations Urge Mask-Wearing 

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises in the state of Montana, we, leaders at Montana’s chambers of commerce and destination marketing organizations, join our business friends and colleagues throughout the state in calling on the public to wear masks or cloth face coverings to protect the health and viability of the communities we represent.

In order for us to continue reopening or remain open as a state, it is imperative that we slow the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recommends mask-wearing to help slow the spread of the virus, which in turn can help our businesses to remain open. Wearing masks not only helps keep our residents healthy, but will also allow our tourism-dependent economy to recover at a faster rate. To date, we are one of the few states not mandating this. When we voluntarily do our part, we forestall the need for more restrictive measures.

Montana relies on tourism, and the ability of visitors to travel safely into, around and out of the state is critical to our economy’s recovery. According to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana, in May of 2020, a full 44% of Montana tourism business owners said that under current conditions, their businesses could only survive another six months or fewer. Another 22% said they could only last up to a year. The impact of the pandemic is devastating to our economy and wearing masks can lessen this impact.

There is a misconception that COVID-19 is being brought to Montana by out-of-state visitors. Although this may have been true in a handful of cases, most cases in Montana have been caused by community spread amongst our residents, according to local health departments and the state’s Department of Emergency Services.

As residents of Montana, we must set the example for our community and our visitors — wear masks when social distancing is not possible, whether indoors or out. Read more from the Helena IR here.

Montana Coronavirus Relief Funding Resources

Families, small businesses, non-profits, health services centers and individuals across Montana hardest-hit by impacts of COVID-19 are eligible to apply for grants through new programs created in response to the emergency. For a complete list of available grant programs, eligibility requirements and to apply, visit COVIDRELIEF.MT.GOV.

Transparency Dashboard Updated Weekly

The state of Montana has launched a dynamic dashboard that shows the Coronavirus Relief Fund grants that have been awarded to businesses and nonprofits. This dashboard will be updated weekly until all grant dollars have been expended. 

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of July 6 from Destination Analysts

The significant rise of COVID-19 cases in the United States has rippled through the American mood, causing travelers to feel less safe, waning in enthusiasm and even down on whether travel can offer happiness, fun, relaxation, culinary joy and cultural enrichment in this environment.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • A record low 13.8% of American travelers feel the pandemic will get better in the US in the next month; instead nearly two-thirds feel it will get worse.
  • Personal safety concerns are the highest they have been in three months.
  • A record 41.5% of American travelers now say they have no trip plans for the rest of year and only 35.7% agree they will be traveling in the Fall now.
  • Americans feel the virus has made travel’s ability to deliver fun and relaxation, as well as culinary and cultural enrichment, especially difficult, if not impossible.
  • A majority of American travelers continue to say that too many people in their communities are not wearing face masks and not maintaining the appropriate social distance in public.
  • The percent of Americans who say they would be happy to see an ad promoting their community for tourism when it’s safe remains depressed below 40%.
  • Travel marketing potential does exist: Now 11.0% say they are already in a “back traveling” state of mind; another 11.1% say they are ready to travel with no hesitations; 35.3% say they could be convinced to take a trip this year that they hadn’t previously considered.
  • Travelers in the Millennial or GenZ generations continue to exhibit less fear and hesitation and more openness and readiness to travel now. Men—particularly those with household incomes above $80K—also continue to index more highly for travel marketability compared to women.

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.
    • July 22
    • September 23
    • November 25
  • 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 

2020 Montana Tourism Awards

The annual Montana Tourism Awards recognize the outstanding accomplishments of the people, businesses, organizations and communities that strengthen Montana's tourism and recreation industries and thereby contribute to maximizing its economic impact for Montana residents.

In past years, the winners have been revealed at the live awards ceremony held in conjunction with the annual Montana Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Recreation. Unable to do so in 2020, award-winners were notified and a public announcement was made on May 19.

Therefore, additional information about each recipient and the finalists in each category will be highlighted in the Friday Flash over the next few weeks. 

Glaciers to Geysers

2020 Marketing Campaign of the Year - “Glaciers to Geysers” a joint venture between Glacier Country Tourism and Yellowstone Country Montana

The Marketing Campaign of the Year award recognizes an outstanding tourism-related marketing campaign (including any combination of paid, owned or earned media) executed within the past calendar year. For this award, the marketing campaign is defined as a series of planned marketing activities, channels and methods that produce measurable results related directly to the campaign.

The purpose of the campaign was to focus on niche travel markets. By combining funds for this purpose, both regions were able to target and reach a greater audience than they would have been able to on their own. The campaign was supported with paid advertising that blurred the lines between the two regions and catered to visitors unaware of Montana’s distinct tourism regions. The program has been incredibly successful, and partners and stakeholders within the two regions have been thrilled with the results.

The program started with showcasing snowmobiling during FY19 and grew to include motorcycling during the warm season. Due to the success of the program in FY19, it was expanded to include downhill skiing, Nordic skiing and mixed winter activities during the winter season, and a focus on museums and history will be covered during the FY20 warm season. Additional focus points and additional DMO partners are being considered for future campaigns as well.

Both regions have been equally represented in all creative, and many different advertising mediums were used, including web (, digital, print, email, social and video.

Print placements for the snowmobiling and motorcycling campaigns included ad placements in SnoWest magazine (snowmobiling) and RoadRUNNER magazine (motorcycling). Brochures were also sent to in-region CVBs and airports to be displayed for visitors.

The fulfillment centers for Glacier Country and Yellowstone Country fulfilled an additional 4,052 guide requests for the motorcycle brochures during FY19. The top requests for the motorcycling guide came from Alberta, British Columbia, Minnesota, Washington and Colorado. All 10,000 snowmobile guides were distributed.

Web work included creation of a sitemap, content development, digital design and user functionality. Each campaign has its own landing page with interactive maps, travel tips and itineraries. The website was promoted through digital and social advertising targeted to these niche markets.

Projects like this contributed to overall tourism growth in both regions—more than 10% last year—and help encourage travel through our neighbor regions as well. The long-term goal being to raise awareness of all the extraordinary places to see and experiences to have between the parks—between Montana’s glaciers and geysers.

We'd also like to acknowledge the top finalists in the category: 

  • Montana Missouri River County & Central Montana Tourism “Canada” joint venture campaign
  • Visit Southeast Montana “Out Here” campaign
  • Belgrade Convention and Visitors Bureau “Belgrade Winter” campaign and

Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative


Our Grants Make a Big Impact in Montana Communities

ZooMontana’s newest resident has begun his long, and slow, journey to Billings!  The yet to be named male sloth is making his way to ZooMontana from Michigan, and after a 30 day quarantine, will be ready to welcome Zoo guests to his state of the art, new habitat. 

ZooMontana was recently honored to receive a $51,000 grant through the Montana Department of Commerce’s Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative. The initiative is a collaboration among the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development at Commerce and communities across eastern Montana formed in response to community leaders seeking to strengthen local economies. 

Granted funds will be used for the construction and marketing of the Zoo’s highly anticipated Stockman Bank Sloth exhibit. Montana Department of Commerce Director, Tara Rice, is excited about the partnership. “Communities in eastern Montana are planning for smart, long-term economic growth to bring more travelers to the region, which will support job growth and opportunities.  One part of the economic equation in eastern Montana includes making sure visitors in and around Montana know they can find breathtaking experiences in every corner of our state. That’s why we’re thrilled to partner with these communities.” Follow the new sloth’s journey @sloth_zoomontana on Instagram, on ZooMontana's Facebook page, or on the zoo’s website.

Sloth 2

Name Me!

After receiving over 1000 name suggestions, my friends at Stockman Bank narrowed it down to five and now you can vote for your favorite. Just click here to help us pick the best name for me. In the meantime, Director Jeff told me that my formal scientific name is "Choloepus Hoffmanni". But you can just call me Choloepus until we tally your votes. Vote for your favorite by Sunday, July 19. 

Made in Montana

Choose Local

As Montana is reopening, we encourage you to support your local businesses. If you are interested in locally sourced ingredients, check out this list of our Taste our Place members and savor Montana flavor. You can also find Made in Montana producers and retailers in your area by visiting   

Made in Montana Member Highlight

Helena-Based Publisher Celebrates 40th Year in Business
Forty years ago, Farcountry Press/Sweetgrass Books was born as an offshoot of Montana Magazine, the brainchild of Rick Graetz. Originally publishing a few books a year under the Montana Magazine moniker, it would eventually grow into the independent publishing company it is today, publishing an average of 50 titles per year. Current owner Linda Netschert started as a sales representative for the business in 1996 and purchased the company from Lee Enterprises in 2011.

It’s really cool to be a part of something that has been around for so long,” related Netschert (nee St. Clair), a fifth generation Montanan who grew up in East Helena. “It’s important to keep the company community focused, which is really a team effort,” Netschert said, adding that company’s mandate is reflected in publishing books that celebrate Montana’s heritage, as well as in the family-like atmosphere among staff. Read more from the Helena IR here

Tribal News

Crow Tribe Stay-at-Home Order Extended, Crow Fair Canceled

The Crow Tribe has extended its stay-at-home order through August and canceled the annual Crow Fair event.

According to an executive order from Crow Chairman Alvin "AJ" Not Afraid issued Thursday, the actions were taken "to protect public health and human safety" as the result of COVID-19.

The tribe's stay-at-home order was set to expire July 15. It is now in place through Aug. 31. Read more from KTVQ here

Chippewa Cree Fashion Designer’s Face Mask Art Draws Fans Worldwide

Many of us are spending more time at home, and we might have picked up a new skill or gotten back to work on an old hobby. In Rocky Boy, a self-described fashionista and clothing designer used her skills to put her own unique twist on a face mask and create socially-distant cultural connections in the process.

Making masks, that was my therapy,” said Rebekah Jarvey, who works as a human resources generalist for the Chippewa Cree tribe. "Art definitely connects us as Indigenous people. That’s what brings us together, is our art, our beadwork, our sewing." Read more from KXLF here

Outdoor Recreation

New Bike Route Can Take You From Minneapolis to Yellowstone

As we adjust to new ways of life during a pandemic in 2020, two things have become very popular in the U.S.

One, bicycles are flying off the shelves. With so many workers staying home, biking has increased dramatically with suppliers having a hard time keeping up with demand. Minneapolis is also consistently one of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S.

Second, Americans are finding new and different ways to go on vacation with air travel discouraged, the cruise industry in dry-dock, and even bans on traveling to Europe. Whether it's a simply stay-cation, safely planning a road trip, or finding a vacation destination close to home, we're all looking for ways to get away from it all.

Now, those two things can come together thanks to a new Parks, Peaks, and Prairies Bicycle Route from the Adventure Cycling Association. The route starts in Minneapolis and heads west through a whole bunch of wide open spaces, eventually taking cyclists 1,374 miles to West Yellowstone in Montana. Read more from WCCO Radio here.

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

BillingsThree Local Tourist Attractions Offer Billings Staycation Package—Three Billings tourist attractions – ZooMontana, DanWalt Gardens, and Moss Mansion – have banded together and created a 'Billings Staycation' Package. The three locations are listed as the top three tourist attractions in Billings on Trip Advisor. Together, they are offering a 2 for 1 pass for all three attractions.

"Anytime we can partner with the great entities that are in Billings, Montana, we're on board," says Executive Director of ZooMontana Jeff Ewelt, "and what we help it does is, we hope it helps all of us. We hope a visitor comes to the Zoo and then learn about DanWalt Gardens, or want to visit the mansion and see what an incredible asset we have here in town. We're just so excited about this partnership all around, and I think it's going to help us all." Read more from KULR8 here

BoulderJefferson County Trails Guide is now Available—Events continue to be canceled this year due to COVID-19, but there is still a way to get outside and socially distance at the same time — hiking.

The Jefferson County Parks/Recreation/Trails committee recently released its Boulder, Montana Trails Guide.

The guide contains descriptions, elevation changes and directions for 13 trailheads, all located within central Jefferson County. The distances range from variable to the 15-mile Basin Creek to Comet route. The guide is primarily for non-motorized use, but there are some motorized routes also included. Read more from the Boulder Monitor here.

LincolnNew Skatepark in Lincoln Celebrates Grand Opening—Skaters are showing off their moves in the new skatepark at Hooper Park in the town of Lincoln.

This is going to be so fun," says Makena Copenhaver, one student involved with the Skatepark project from the beginning. A grand opening ceremony was held with all those who helped with the project, including a group of students who were part of the project from day one. Many believed the skatepark was just an idea.

"I didn't actually think it would be able to happen,” says Copenhaver. “Then, when we started getting approvals from the county and stuff, and the chambers, it just like realized that it hit me like 'this is actually going to happen.'"

The idea came after a group of Lincoln students and their teacher reached out to Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament, who has helped fundraise skateparks in small Montana towns before. Ament agreed because he says he often drives through Lincoln. The fundraising for the park began but not without a roadblock. Read more from KBZK here.


Complete the 2020 Census Now!

Filling out the Census is quick, easy, and safe. It will take less than 10 minutes to complete and your information and privacy are protected by federal law. Montanans can fill out their Census forms online at or by phone at 1.844.330.2020. The Census is also available via TDD (Telephone Display Device) at 844.467.2020. Learn more at CENSUS.MT.GOV.

Other Dates/Events to Note

October 4-6, 2020Northwest USA Spotlight Tourism Conference (Helena)—Spotlight is a 2.5 day tourism conference with educational seminars, networking functions, site-seeing tours and a supplier trade show. Attendance will consist of 30-35 QUALIFIED group tour operators and buyers (coming from all over the US and Canada) along with about 25-30 Suppliers. For more information, click here

October 6-8, 2020—The 2020 NAISMA (North American Invasive Species Management Association) Annual Conference (Virtual)—The 2020 NAISMA Annual Conference will be held on a virtual platform rather than our traditional in-person meeting in order to keep everyone safe and healthy. 

This year’s virtual conference will be presented live during the conference dates. Sessions will also be recorded for post-event attendee access. Attendees will be able to log in to view presentations for up to 1 year after the event. To learn more, click here

October 20, 2020 (Sidney) and October 22, 2020 (Butte)—Rise and Restore Small Business Summit—The Rise and Restore Small Business Summit is in response to COVID-19. Hear how industry experts and other small business owners have been maintaining their business, stabilizing their profit and protecting their team in response to COVID-19. To learn more or register, click here