Friday Flash 10/9/2020

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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Marketing Method Evaluation/End-of-Year Reporting 

Thank you to those tourism partners who have begun the fiscal year 2020 required reporting. This annual process is not only an opportunity to verify and analyze the use of lodging tax funds, but also where the organizations tell the many success stories and share best practices through the evaluation of each marketing method where funds were spent.

Marketing Method Evaluation reporting must be completed by the January 1, 2021 deadline. Organizations are encouraged to review the current Rules and Procedures in effect for FY20 as there are several changes in reporting requirements. Visit the Tourism Regions, CVBs and Partners Resources page for updated documents.

For the second year in a row, the Belgrade CVB has completed and submitted all required reporting before October 1 and is able to check that off a very busy list of fall activities.

More than half of our partners have started entering their respective reporting into WebGrants with special recognition to Belgrade, Missoula, Missouri River Country, Red Lodge, Southwest Montana and Yellowstone Country for completing the essential first piece, the Budget to Actual Comparison report and updated pie chart.

Tourism Regions and CVBs are encouraged to work on reporting and submit early enough in order to have time to edit and update if needed. One-on-one assistance is available. The Marketing Plan Segments section for all organizations has been opened for editing for FY20. For assistance, please contact Kev Campbell or Barb Sanem.


Montana Aware Toolkit

New Explore Responsibly materials are now available in the Montana Aware toolkit. New, free resources include printable flyers, PSA templates, a sample press release, social media copy and more! 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.

Workforce Recovery Program

The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) Workforce Recovery program is designed to support Montana businesses that had to lay-off employees and/or reduce the hours of the employee to part-time status due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Commerce will reimburse Montana businesses based on the growth of jobs up to pre COVID-19 levels.

The Workforce Recovery program will reimburse a business for the wages of full-time, permanent jobs that are created and retained for at least six months, up to a maximum of 25 jobs per business. Businesses apply directly to the program. A reimbursement of up to $7,500 per job is available to businesses in high-poverty counties. The business must match $3,750 per job. A reimbursement of up to $5,000 per job, with a $5,000 match, is available for businesses in all other counties.

Please reference the guidelines for further information on the program. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted or December 31, 2020, whichever comes first. For more information or to apply, click here

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 October 5 from Destination Analysts

Despite growing pessimism and the President’s diagnosis, willingness to travel continues to improve, business travel resumption has increased and urban destinations appear poised for a comeback. For those Americans still engaging in travel avoidance, the wide distribution of an effective COVID-19 vaccine is far and away their top ranked condition for being comfortable traveling again.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • The September jobs report and the President’s announcement of his COVID-19 diagnosis did not appear to heighten American travelers’ concerns, with the percent of American travelers with high degrees of concern about personally contracting the coronavirus decreasing to 68.0% and personal financial concerns dropping to a 30-week low.
  • Despite growing pessimism about the pandemic’s course over the next month, Americans’ perceptions of travel’s safety, their confidence in traveling safely and their readiness to travel continued to improve, and over 40% anticipate their next trip will take place before the end of the year.
  • As in pre-pandemic times, Florida, Las Vegas, Hawaii, New York and California dominate the hot list of where Americans want to go, although outdoor-brand destinations like Colorado, Utah and North Carolina continue to displace some iconic cities for top spots.
  • Nevertheless, urban destinations appear now poised for a comeback, with well over one-third of American travelers describing the destination they most want to visit in the next year as a city/metropolitan area.
  • For those still engaging in travel avoidance, the wide distribution of an effective COVID-19 vaccine is far and away their top ranked condition for being comfortable traveling again. Unfortunately, willingness to take a vaccine that is developed in the next few months has declined somewhat among the general American traveling population.
  • Looking for indicators of business travel’s recovery, 26.7% of American travelers who work for companies in which employees travel for business say that this travel has started again, up from 24.2% one month ago. However, among those whose companies are not yet back to business travel, now well more than half expect that it won’t be until after April that it resumes.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here.

Save the Dates...

  • October 20, 2020—Region/CVB 1st Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • November 25, 2020—Tourism Partner Call—This bi-monthly call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 18 CVBs and specific industry stakeholders. For assistance or information regarding this call, please contact Kev Campbell or call her at 406.841.2887.
  • January 20, 2021—Region/CVB 2nd Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • January 1, 2021—Region/CVB Marketing Method Evaluation Reports Due
  • February 8-9, 2021TAC Meeting 
  • April 20, 2021—Region/CVB 3rd Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • June 14-15, 2021TAC Meeting 
  • July 20, 2021—Region/CVB 4th Quarter Financial Reports Due 

Tourism Grant Program

New Tourism Grant Cycle Opens October 15

We are happy to announce a 2021 application cycle for projects that develop and enhance tourism and recreation that have the potential to increase non-resident visitation in Montana’s communities. The 2021 application cycle will accept applications from eligible entities from October 15 - November 30, 2020.

For more information about the program, timeline of the grant cycle or register for a workshop about the Tourism Grant Program 2021 application, visit MARKETMT.COM/TOURISMGRANTS.

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   


Visit Montana Launches Unique ‘Montana Aware’ Video Series

Visit Montana has launched a unique video series blending animation with scenes of Montana’s spectacular, unspoiled nature as part of its “Montana Aware” campaign. “Montana Aware” is a statewide effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 by promoting safety measures for those traveling in the state.

Visit Montana at the Montana Department of Commerce continues to put safety first and adventure second as we remind residents and visitors of the public health best practices that can help to slow the spread of the virus,” Commerce Director Tara Rice said. “This new video series will remind travelers that we take safety seriously and expect visitors to do the same.”

Watch the spot here:

The videos can currently be seen on connected television and digital platforms by national audiences who have expressed interest in visiting Montana, as well as audiences in drive-state markets. Later this fall, the “Know Before You Go” video will also be shown on cable and broadcast television channels local to audiences in drive-state markets.

The spot will be seen on television networks including ABC, NBC, ESPN, HGTV, Discovery, AMC, TBS, the Food Network and more. Audiences in neighboring drive-market states such as Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Washington and Wyoming will start seeing the spot in mid-November.

To learn more about the “Montana Aware” campaign for travelers, go to VISITMT.COM. If you’re a business or community partner who’d like to use the “Montana Aware” toolkit, download it at MARKETMT.COM.

MT Aware Video

Tribal Tourism

Little Bighorn Battlefield

New Visitor Center at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument To Expand Educational Opportunities for all Visitors

The National Park Foundation, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the National Park Service, and Friends of the Little Bighorn Battlefield are announcing their collective efforts to construct a new visitor center at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana that will expand interpretive and educational opportunities for all park visitors.

The new visitor center is a significant step forward as the National Park Service works to make tribal artifacts and their interpretation more accessible to tribes and the public, and expand stories and perspectives about the multifaceted history and legacy of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The building itself will better protect museum collections through improved environmental controls, while its contemporary design will blend with the surrounding landscape, including large windows and a roof terrace with a view of the battlefield. With greater access to exhibits, enhanced functionality, and new areas for interpretive and educational programs, the facility will enable visitors to engage with a powerful place-based experience during their visit.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust is honored to grant $4.5 million towards building a new visitor center at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument,” said Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley trustee. “This is a significant site in American history with an amazing story to tell. The new visitor center will preserve, protect, memorialize, and interpret the cultural and natural resources of the park, including the landscape and the park’s world-class artifact and document collection for future generations.” Read more from the National Park Foundation here

Heritage/Cultural News

Clark Lookout

Along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Most residents and visitors are familiar with explorers Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark who traversed the country as part of the Corps of Discovery Expedition in the early 1800’s.

Today, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and its interactive geotourism website link contemporary, authentic communities and cultures, including tribes whose connections span thousands of years, to historic, vibrant and living landscapes.

While traveling through Montana on the Trail, the experience is greatly enhanced by the amazing possibilities highlighted on the LEWISANDCLARK.TRAVEL website. Everything from enjoying a meal at a local eatery to exploring a historic natural area is available on the website. The website is multi-faceted and while it serves as a tool for planning travels, it is equally a tool for destinations to promote their historic and contemporary role on the Trail.

This week’s highlight from along the Trail is located in the southwest corner of the state, one mile north of the community of Dillon above the Beaverhead River. Clark’s Lookout State Park is a place that provided the Lewis and Clark Expedition with a view of the route ahead. On August 13, 1805, Captain William Clark climbed this hill overlooking the Beaverhead River to get a sense of his surroundings and document the location. This state park is just off Highway 91 near the paved parking lot, interpretive signs explain navigational methods used by the expedition. Make the short walk to the top of the lookout and you’ll discover a magnificent view of the Beaverhead Valley and a monument showing the three compass readings that Captain Clark took on that day. Explore the other things to do, places to eat, drink, shop and stay in this vibrant community along the Trail.

It’s free and easy to nominate businesses, destinations, and points of interest to be featured on the website To learn how, click here


Montanans Can Still Respond to the 2020 Census

A U.S. District Court Judge has ordered that the U.S. Census Bureau continue its 2020 operations through October 31. As of today, that order stands despite attempts to appeal the ruling. The state of Montana will continue to support outreach and promotional efforts to make sure Montanans know why it’s so important to respond to the Census.

Today, the deadline is Oct. 31 – but Montanans should not wait to respond, do it right now! As the goal posts have continued to move throughout this process, it’s critical to stay focused on what’s truly important: ensuring Montanans are represented at every level of government, and make sure Montana gets its fair share of federal funding. Make sure your friends, family and neighbors respond today at MY2020CENSUS.GOV or by calling 1.844.330.2020.

Funding Resources

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) 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.

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 by 5:00 p.m. on October 19, 2020. For more information or to apply, click here

Other Dates/Events to Note

October 2020 (Multiple Dates)Community Presentations from Voices of Montana Tourism (Virtual)—Updates for Montana Businesses: Jobs, Community, Economy – Tourism is a leading industry for Montana strengthening small businesses and supporting thousands of jobs. While Covid19 has been a great disrupter for the global economy, now is the time to consider how tourism will be part of Montana’s story of recovery.

By understanding the past, we can steer our path to the future. While we’ll adapt to a new world, opportunities will present themselves and we want to be ready for them with the right partners in place.

In other years, Voices of Montana Tourism would host a legislative candidate lunch with a panel of business leaders to provide education on tourism. This year, we have adapted to offer online forums which have been successful in Missoula and Kalispell. There are still five community presentations and you can register for them using the links below. All events are from noon to 1:00 p.m.

October 13-15, 2020—MEDA Fall Conference "We're in this Together" (Virtual)—The MEDA Fall Conference is designed to bring you maximum information with minimum Zoom fatigue. You may register for all three segments of content and pop in and out as you choose. You will not want to miss the MEDA 2020 Awards, candidate forums, Tell Us Something, legislative strategy time, and the latest on the Montana Next Generation of Community and Economic Development Tools next steps. To register or get more information, 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. Expect three days of networking, live panels, podcasts, dynamic guest speakers, webinars, live workshops, film festival and so much more. For more information or to register, 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