Friday Flash 10/23/2020

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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.

Completing the Budget to Actual Comparison report and updated pie chart is an essential first piece. Tourism Regions and CVBs are encouraged to work on reporting and submit early enough in order to have time to edit and update as needed. One-on-one assistance is available. The Marketing Plan Segments section for all organizations has been opened for editing for FY20.

Marketing Method Evaluation reporting must be completed by the January 1, 2021 deadline. Organizations are encouraged to review the updated Rules and Procedures in effect for FY20; there are several changes in reporting requirements. Visit the Tourism Regions, CVBs and Partners Resources page for updated resources and Marketing Method Evaluation documents including template language that may be customized for each organization. For assistance, please contact Kev Campbell or Barb Sanem.


Montana Aware Badge

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 is a statewide effort designed to help Montana's tourism partners and local businesses slow the spread of COVID-19 by promoting safety measures for those traveling in the state. 

Below are some examples of what some of our partners have done in their communities. We will continue to highlight the work that our partners are doing to keep Montana residents and visitors safe. 

Bozeman CVB

Bozeman CVB

The Bozeman CVB in partnership with Cottonwood Enterprises, ran a campaign awareness program on radio, TV , social media to get businesses to reward the general public that entered their stores for a chance to win on a scratch off card they took with them. Business staff not only handed out the game pieces to everyone that entered and wore a mask as a reward , but also handed a card and thanked those who were not masked up, asking them to put on a mask provided by the Bozeman CVB.


West Yellowstone

West Yellowstone CVB

The West Yellowstone CVB has created bi-lingual (English and Spanish) direct mail pieces that will be sent to all PO Box holders in West Yellowstone and neighboring Island Park. 

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 12 from Destination Analysts

A strong growth in coronavirus cases across the U.S. has brought renewed anxiety among travelers, dampening their travel readiness and trip plans, including for the upcoming holidays. Meanwhile, niche travel for skiing/snowboarding and conventions/group meetings still appears to be moving steadily towards recovery.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • High concerns among American travelers’ about contracting the coronavirus and its impact on personal finances and the national economy rose this week, as numbers of cases soared across the U.S.
  • Pessimism about the course the virus will take in the U.S is now clearly on a renewed growth path.
  • While these darkening feelings did not meaningfully impact safety perceptions about travel, they did adversely affect both travel readiness and trip plans.
  • It appears that nearly 25% fewer Americans will be traveling to celebrate the holidays this year. The majority of those not traveling have a pandemic related reason for not doing so.
  • Those who will travel the holidays are planning on taking 2.4 trips on average, with 35.4% saying they will travel by air. However, 27.8% plan to decrease their spending on these holiday trips relative to last year. Over one-third (34.8%) plan to test themselves for COVID-19 prior to their trips.
  • Nearly 40% of convention travelers say they have plans to attend a convention/group meeting event in the next year. The percent of convention travelers who report they would be happy if asked to attend such a meeting in the next six months has grown to 49.7% from 40.8% in June. Trust in both the conference organizers to institute protocols that look out for attendees’ health and fellow attendees to behave appropriately as not to spread COVID-19 has also grown significantly.
  • It is important for the travel industry to be realistic about the threat that virtual meetings pose to the volume and economic impact of this type of travel in the future. While 60% of American travelers say they prefer or strongly prefer in-person to virtual conventions/conferences, one-in-five feel neutral—fine to go either way—and another 20% say they prefer virtual.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here.

Save the Dates...

  • Tourism Partner Call—This bi-monthly call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 18 CVBs and specific industry stakeholders. The calls are held on the fourth Wednesday, every other month from 10:00-11:00 a.m. For assistance or information regarding this call, please contact Kev Campbell or call her at 406.841.2887.
    • November 25, 2020
    • January 27, 2021
    • March 24, 2021
    • May 26, 2021
    • July 28, 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    • November 24, 2021
  • 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

Applications for Tourism Grants are now Being Accepted! 

The application cycle for Tourism Grants is now open. The 2021 application cycle will accept applications from eligible entities from October 15 - November 30, 2020.

The Tourism Grant Program funds projects that strengthen Montana’s economy through the development and enhancement of Montana’s tourism and recreation industry. A total of $750,000 is available for projects that develop and enhance tourism and recreation products that have the potential to increase non-resident visitation.

Projects funded in the 2021 cycle must be completed by June of 2022. Entities in Montana that are eligible to apply for a Tourism Grant include registered non-profit 501(c) organizations and city, tribal or county governments.

Funds will be awarded to tourism and recreation projects that fall within the categories of:

  • Arts/Culture /Heritage Preservation: projects that preserve, protect, or restore Montana’s arts, culture, and/or heritage treasures
  • Visitor Facility Upgrades/Construction: projects that will enhance the non-resident visitor experience and increase expenditures
  • Niche Product Development: projects of interest to non-resident visitors as identified in Montana Destination Brand Research Study

For more information or to apply for a grant, visit  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   

MIM Members in the News

Rocky Boy Designer Selected to Produce ‘Montana Aware’ Masks
A fashion designer from Rocky Boy has been selected to make face masks for the Department of Commerce. Rebekah Jarvey, an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree and Blackfeet Tribes, will be making 1,000 masks for the ‘Montana Aware‘ campaign. The three-fold style, CDC compliant handmade masks will be sent to Helena and distributed throughout the state. 

Jarvey is a fourth-generation beader and sewer that takes pride in each mask she makes. “It’s rare nowadays to have that much generational knowledge passed down in the family. So that’s my family legacy and I take pride with my great-grandmother, that taught my grandma, then my grandma taught my mom and my mom taught me. And I’ve been teaching my son right now, so he’s a fifth-generation beader. He doesn’t necessarily sew yet, but he does bead. So it’s our family legacy and I’m carrying on the tradition and culture.” Read more from Hi-Line Today here.

Heritage/Cultural News

January 11-February 28, 2021—Professional Certificate Program in Cultural Heritage Tourism 

Increasingly, travelers are interested in experiencing the authentic traditions and cultures of Native Americans. Explore the fundamentals of Tribal tourism planning with the Professional Certificate Program in Cultural Heritage Tourism offered by AIANTA (American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association) in partnership with the George Washington University.

The online program brings together industry experts who help students explore the importance of including authentic Native American cultural experiences in their tourism planning.

Courses include narrated presentations, live webinars, online discussions and practical tools and resources participants can apply in their day-to-day experiences planning tourism programs. for more information, click here

Outdoor Recreation

Eastern Montana Business Owners Hope Hunters will Come, Despite COVID-19

With the coronavirus infection rate steadily climbing this fall, will Eastern Montana businesses be wary of outsiders pouring in to hunt, possibly spreading the disease? “I have no concern as far as people coming,” said Paula Williams, manager of the Little Montana Chuckwagon cafe in Grass Range. “I have lots of concern about people not coming.”

Brenda Maas, marketing manager for Visit Southeast Montana, said in an email that her group is “focused on promoting the message of safety across the region for residents and locals alike” during the pandemic.

With it being so outdoors oriented, I don’t think we’re looking at a real problem with it,” said John Laney, executive director of the Miles City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Every fall, thousands of Montana and out-of-state hunters flock to Eastern Montana in search of pronghorn, deer, elk, pheasant, geese and ducks. For many hunters, the outings are an annual tradition, sometimes connecting urban residents with their farm and ranch relatives and friends. The money hunters spend in October and November — the main hunting months — has been estimated at more than $401 million for the entire state, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Read more from the Billings Gazette here

New Proposal Aims to Chart Path for 200k Acres Around Lincoln

The mountain town of Lincoln is at the heart of a new collaborative proposal from citizens and interest groups hoping to shape the future of land management and outdoor recreation. The Lincoln Prosperity Proposal is the product of more than five years of meetings between conservationists, outfitters, outdoor recreation advocates, firefighters, timber interests and others.

The proposal calls on Congress to set into law land management on 200,000 acres of Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, including 56,000 acres of new wilderness, 63,000 acres of conservation areas, nearly 70,000 acres of forest restoration areas for logging and fuels reduction, motorized recreation areas and new trails designed for mountain biking. Read more from the Helena Independent Record here

Firewood Awareness Month

The Don’t Move Firewood and Hungry Pests campaigns are excited to co-facilitate Firewood Awareness Month in October! The goal of Firewood Awareness Month is to raise public awareness about firewood movement as a forest pest and disease pathway. Get your Firewood  Month Toolkit and more information by clicking here

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

MontanaMontana Data: Tourists not Responsible for Many COVID Cases—There isn’t much evidence to show that tourists and out-of-state visitors have contributed significantly to the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases either in Montana or in specific counties since the start of the pandemic.

A total of 250 people who don’t live in Montana have tested positive in Montana since the start of the pandemic. The state is reporting 20,210 total cases of COVID-19 in Montana since the first case was reported in early March, although the state’s numbers don’t reflect the most recent county-level data on new cases.

Travel-associated cases in the state, which also included Montana residents who travel, account for only 5% of known transmission routes since the outbreak started. "The impact of out-of-state visitors to Montana or travel-associated cases overall has shown to be minimal,” said Erin Loranger, the press secretary for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s office. Read more from the Missoulian here

Big Sky, Belgrade, Bozeman and Whitefish—Montana is vying for top honors in several skiing categories in USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards. You can vote daily thorough Monday, November 9, 2020 at Noon ET. To make it super easy, the categories and Montana nominees follow. Click the link for each nominee to vote for them directly.

Funding Resources

FWP Recreation Grant Program Application Period Opens November 2!

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will begin accepting grant applications for four recreation grant programs on Monday, November 2, at 12:00 p.m. via the online system at

Applications for the following grant programs are due by Monday, February 1, 2021:

  • New! Montana Trail Stewardship Grant Program
  • New! Summer Motorized Trail Pass Grant Program
  • Recreational Trails Program
  • Off-Highway Vehicle Grant Program

In total, these four grant programs provide over $3 million for recreation projects across Montana.

FWP is offering virtual training sessions for prospective applicants from October through January. These sessions are free and highly recommended for new and returning applicants to any of the four grant programs. During the training, FWP staff will provide tips on writing a competitive application, using the grant management software to submit an application, and understanding differences and similarities between programs. Online trainings via Zoom will be held on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, October 28, 2020: 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 5, 2020: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, December 8, 2020: 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 7, 2021: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

For more information on attending a grant application training session or applying to one of these opportunities, visit STATEPARKS.MT.GOV/RECREATION.  For full press release, click here

Other News

Canada and US Border Closure Extended for Seventh Time, Now Until November 21

Canada and the United States will keep their border closed until at least November 21 as the countries continue to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair confirmed the policy extension, which started in March.
We are extending non-essential travel restrictions with the United States until November 21st, 2020,” Blair tweeted. “Our decisions will continue to be based on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe.”

The travel ban does not apply to the many doctors and nurses who regularly cross the border in order to help. A large number of medical personnel in Michigan live just over the border and commute daily to help fight the pandemic. Read more from Fox News here

Other Dates/Events to Note

November 10, 2020 (11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.)—Rise and Restore Small Business Virtual Summit—In response to COVID-19, Headwaters RC&D has partnered with Great Northern Development Corporation, America's Small Business Development Center of Montana and Montana Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program to present the Rise & Restore Small Business Virtual Summit. Join this free event via Zoom for a timely talk and sneak previews of speakers, topics and the Minnow Tank competition being presented at our live conference the the spring of 2021. To learn more or register, click here