Friday Flash 9/11/2020

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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.

Recreate Responsibly

Recreate Responsibly

Given the HIGH to VERY HIGH fire danger, our regional prevention teams are coordinating efforts to raise awareness. 

Public lands across Montana are experiencing unprecedented levels of recreation. Please help spread the message of awareness to those enjoying the great outdoors.


Montana Aware Toolkit

You can find the downloadable toolkit and other resources at MARKETMT.COM

Montana Aware Badge

COVID-19 Relief Funding

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 August 24 from Destination Analysts

Over one-third of American travelers took a leisure trip in the Summer of COVID-19, with these trips providing a net increase in confidence that travel can be done safely right now. Meanwhile, based on American corporate workers anticipations, a full return to business travel may not be until April or later.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • Americans’ near term outlook on the pandemic is largely unchanged from last week, meaning pessimism remains in retreat. Strong concerns for COVID-19’s impact on personal health and financial safety are at or near the lowest levels recorded in the past 26 weeks.
  • Perceptions of travel activities’ safety—while still far from ideal—are the best they have been since the onset of the pandemic. Among the most confident they can travel safely right now are younger travelers and those in the South.
  • Over half of American travelers remain in a “ready to travel” versus “need more time” mindset and 75% continue to report that they have at least tentative trip plans.
  • The proportion comfortable with tourists visiting their own communities is among the highest it has been during the pandemic.
  • 13.0% of American travelers reported taking a trip for Labor Day, slightly lower than July Fourth (16.5%).
  • Over one-third of American travelers reports they took a leisure trip this past summer, with beaches and rural areas the most popular destinations. Over 80% of these travelers stayed overnight on these leisure trips, largely in friends/relatives homes and hotels, and over two-thirds said they researched the coronavirus-related rules and regulations in their trip destination.
  • Overall these summer trips provided a net increase in confidence that travel can be done safely right now.
  • 24.2% of American travelers who work for companies in which employees travel for business say that this travel has started again. Of those not yet back to business travel, a quarter anticipate this travel to return in January, but nearly half expect that it will be April or later.
  • Looking at how more (safe) travel can be inspired, online content, email, search engine marketing and social media are seemingly particularly effective.

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.
    • September 23
    • November 25
  • October 5-6, 2020—TAC Meeting 
  • February 8-9, 2021—TAC Meeting 
  • June 14-15, 2021—TAC Meeting 

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   

Outdoor Recreation

Governor Earmarks $4M for Lower Yellowstone River Recreation Infrastructure

Gov. Steve Bullock said he will ask Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to appropriate $4 million in general license funding to support the building of boat ramps and campgrounds along the lower Yellowstone River.

Bullock met with members of the Lower Yellowstone River Coalition in Glendive where he made the announcement. The funding would require approval of the 2021 Montana Legislature.

We have a tremendous opportunity to improve public access along a large stretch of the lower Yellowstone River, and I look forward to seeing the coalition’s vision of improved river access and recreation realized and passed on to our kids and grandkids,” Bullock said in a statement. Read more from the Ravalli Republic here

Custer Gallatin Forest Plan Revision: What's Next—Interested Person Filing Period

After the objection period closes and the legal notice is published of qualified objections, the interested person filing period runs for 10-days from September 18 - September 28.

The regional office and Forest then work together to plan the objection/resolution meetings tentatively scheduled for late Fall/early winter (dates TBA). Decision is anticipated spring 2021. For more information on how to file, click here

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

ButteBed Tax Being Renewed on Hard-Hit Hotel Industry in Butte—Just as Butte’s tourism season was getting started, coronavirus dealt the hotel industry a vicious economic blow.

Who knew? Who knew that we would ever come across something like this?,” said Maria Pochervina, director of the Tourism Business Improvement District. Butte’s Tourism Business Improvement District reports that occupancy in the county’s 18 hotels and motels have been down over the summer since the pandemic ended large events and festivals.

The TBID board will be asking Butte’s Council of Commissioners to approve a $1 bed tax to raise money from promotional efforts. Earlier this year, the board was considering increasing the tax to $2 to help raise funding for a revenue guarantee to bring a second flight to the Bert Mooney Airport. Read more from KXLF here

Glacier Park International AirportAirport Traffic Gradually Recovering: for Now—Montana airports might have been spared the worst damage from the COVID-19 pandemic this summer. According to a new analysis from industry group Airlines for America, Montana experienced the smallest percentage decline in passenger flights out of any state in the country when compared to July of last year.

Montana saw a 25% reduction in scheduled flights from July 2019 to July 2020. The national average was about a 50% decrease, and New York, the state with the most significant drop-off, saw flights decline by 70% compared to the same time period last year. “Montana may be a bright spot right now,” observed Rob Ratkowski, the airport director of Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell. Read more from the Daily Interlake here.

Great FallsGreat Falls Tourism is Slowly Rebounding—Walk in to the O'Haire Motor Inn in downtown Great Falls and the sound of the front door opening may be the loudest sound you hear. "Occupancy is down significantly, to the point that our occupancy numbers this summer are less than what we saw in December, January, and February,” said owner Sandi Thares. While the summer season was worse than expected, Thares said better days could be just a couple months away.

Great Falls Montana Tourism director Rebecca Engum said tourism is slowly returning to normal. "Our office was closed April and most of May. we came back to get ready for a June 1st reopening of the doors. On June 1st, we started seeing in-market guests again. What we were seeing was about an 80 percent decline in June,” Engum explained. "July, we've seen about a 75 percent decline over the same period last year and then this month we're expecting to see about a 65 percent decline." Read more from KRTV here

MissoulaMissoula County to Host Virtual Summit on Restoring Passenger Rail to Southern MT—Missoula County will host a virtual Montana Passenger Rail Summit from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Thursday, September 17, to educate and advocate for the restoration of passenger rail service to southern Montana and continued support of the Empire Builder. The event will also showcase current efforts to establish the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority, which is the first of its kind in the state.

The summit is open to elected officials, government staff, business and tourism professionals, and anyone interested in restoring passenger rail service to southern Montana, increasing rail connectivity across the region, and how it would complement existing Empire Builder service in northern Montana. Read more from the Valley Journal here


Stop the Knock

Stop the Knock!Complete the 2020 Census Now

Share the message that Montana's can RESPOND NOW and lessen the possibility of a Census Bureau employee knocking on their door to obtain a response to the 2020 Census.

Census takers are currently knocking on doors to follow up with households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census, but you can STOP THE KNOCK if you respond today!

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.

Funding Resources

Aquatic Invasive Species Grants Available!

The Montana Invasive Species Council is now accepting grant applications to fund aquatic invasive species projects. Up to $50,000 is available per project to Montana communities or local, state, tribal, or other entities within the state and to Montana-based non-governmental entities.
AIS grants are intended to increase local capacity and involvement to address AIS issues.

Projects that address the following AIS management components are eligible and include:

  • Prevention
  • Early detection
  • Education and outreach
  • Research
  • Treatment

Current state-wide priorities that have been identified and vetted with former grantees and stakeholders for the upcoming AIS grant cycle include grants related to:

  • Monitoring / early detection projects to expand local capacity and involvement in multi- AIS taxa early detection efforts.
  • AIS outreach projects that expand AIS awareness at the local level.
  • AIS research projects including eDNA research related to dreissenid mussel early detection addressing eDNA Science Advisory Panel recommendations.

Locally-led proposals that address the state-wide priorities will receive ranking preference, however all eligible grant requests will be evaluated and considered. Applications are due Thursday October 19, 2020 by 5:00 p.m. For more information or to apply, click here

2021 Indian Equity Fund Small Business Grant

The Office of Indian Country Economic Development is accepting applications to the fiscal year 2021 Indian Equity Fund (IEF) Small Business Grant program. Applications will be accepted through September 30, 2020. The purpose of this grant is to assist startup or expanding Native American businesses in Montana.

The funds are available to enrolled members of the tribes in Montana. All applications must include documentation of tribal enrollment in the form of a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) or tribal ID. An application will be considered incomplete without this information.

Awards for individual businesses can be up to $14,000 with a minimum dollar-to-dollar cash or in-kind match ($1:$1) and must be firmly committed and documented in the application. For more information, click here

Other Dates/Events to Note

September 24, 2020Resounding Resolve: Where Music Meets Mission (Virtual)—Hosted by the Montana Nonprofit Association and the Red Ants Pants Music Festival, this is a virtual celebration of Montana's spirit, grit, and resolve. It’s for all you big hearts under the big sky. And, it’s FREE FOR ALL.

Check out this foot-stomping lineup of Montana festival favorites!

  • Suzy Bogguss
  • Corb Lund
  • Pam Tillis
  • The Steel Wheels
  • Hayes Carll
  • The Secret Sisters
  • Jeffrey Foucault
  • Lindi Ortega
  • Supaman

Red And Pants Music Festival is bringing the fiddles, Montana Nonprofit Association will bring the can-do attitude, and Montana's Association of Fundraising Professionals will bring a big dose of Montana thank you to the party.

All you have to do is pull up a chair and enjoy the show as Red Ants Pants Fest favorites from around the country come online to give Montana a hug as warm as a July night outside of White Sulphur Springs. Tune in on the Montana Nonprofit Association’s YouTube Channel. 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 13-15, 2020—The 2020 Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit: Building Resiliency for the Future (Virtual)—Hosted by the Montana Office of Outdoor Recreation, Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council, and Montana Trails Coalition, The 2020 Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit will be an enhanced follow-up to inaugural 2018 Business of Outdoor Recreation Summit.

This year's Summit participants will be from Montana, Greater Crown of the Continent Region including Alberta and British Columbia and beyond, ranging from industry, community, and conservation. The summit will offer tools that will help facilitate interaction between attendees and create concrete opportunities to utilize and integrate into future work. Join the conversation to:

  • Promote outdoor recreation opportunities for all
  • Enhance public access to outdoor recreation resources and facilities
  • Support economic vitality of communities and outdoor recreation industry
  • Improve quality of life through outdoor recreation experiences
  • Adapt outdoor recreation for a changing environment
  • Honor outdoor legacy

Expect three days of networking, live panels, podcasts, dynamic guest speakers, webinars, live workshops, film festival and so much more. For more information, 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