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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Marketing Method Evaluation/End-of-Year Reporting 

By now, partners should have completed and submitted the essential first pieces of reporting – the Budget to Actual Comparison report (download from QuickBooks®) and the single updated pie chart showing actual expenses as a percentage of total marketing budget. Those who have not will be emailed a reminder and a customized worksheet to assist.

Marketing Method Evaluation reporting must be completed by the January 1, 2021 deadline. Regions and CVBs are encouraged to work on reporting and submit early enough in order to have time to edit and update as needed. Organizations are encouraged to review the updated Regulations 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. One-on-one assistance is available; please contact Kev Campbell or Barb Sanem.

Thank you to those tourism partners who have begun or who have completed the fiscal year 2020 required reporting (yes, there are some who have submitted all required reporting).


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. 

Visit Billings

Billboards with out-of-home messaging to promote the Montana Aware safety messaging. 

Red Lodge

Red Lodge CVB

Posters with messaging to promote the Montana Aware "Explore Responsibility" safety messaging. 

COVID-19 Relief Funding

Business Related Coronavirus Relief Grant Programs

The Montana Business Adaptability Grant Program is still accepting applications. The deadline to apply is November 15, 2020. For more information on eligibility requirements or 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 November 2 from Destination Analysts

As we have seen at other points in the pandemic, the current increase in cases has heightened Americans’ concerns for their health and financial safety and adversely impacted feelings about travel—although there are signs that travel sentiment and behavior may not be as significantly impacted as during previous surges. Testing and social distancing look most promising for bringing air travel back faster, while strict masking policies are likeliest to bring resistant shoppers back to retail stores.

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.
  • As new infection records continued to be set in the U.S., Americans’ strong concerns about virus contraction and the pandemic’s impact on personal finances and the greater economy marched upwards again this week. Pessimism about the virus’ course in the U.S. is firmly back in a heightened period.
  • The increased anxiety about the virus coincides with decreasing excitement levels about taking a getaway in the next month and openness to travel inspiration.
  • Perceptions of travel activities as unsafe and the percent of Americans who agree they have lost their taste for travel for the time being ticked up this week.
  • However, there are signs that travel may not be as significantly impacted as it was in previous surges during the pandemic. 35.1% of American travelers feel they have gained confidence in how to navigate the pandemic in the last three months. Americans are now actually exhibiting less agreement that they will avoid travel until the coronavirus situation is more resolved and their state of mind about travel readiness remained constant from last week.
  • Three-quarters still have trips at least tentatively planned, and the joy travel brings remains ingrained. Nearly 60% of Americans agree that having a vacation scheduled in the next six months would make them feel there is something happy to look forward to.
  • Air travel also looks to continue a measured recovery. Over 35% plan to travel by air in the next 6 months.
  • Examining policies that may bring more Americans back to air travel sooner, comfort with airlines requiring a COVID-19 test prior to boarding increased to 50.7% from 43.2% just two weeks ago. However, social distancing continues to be important to a significant share of Americans when it comes to air travel.
  • Well over 80% of American travelers plan to shop at a retail store at some point in the remainder of the year, although currently, relatively few plan to take a leisure trip specifically to shop for the holidays (6.7%).
  • The health and safety protocols Americans most desire for the in-person retail experience include social distancing guidelines enforced and strict masking requirements, although required masking for patrons and staff is seen as absolutely required by those Americans who still perceive shopping as unsafe.

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
  • December 30, 2020—Final Day for Tourism Safety Grant Expenditures
  • January 1, 2021—Region/CVB Marketing Method Evaluation Reports Due
  • January 20, 2021—Region/CVB 2nd Quarter Financial 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 until 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 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   

Montana Film News

Movie, Series Being Filmed in Butte

Film crews are in Butte shooting an upcoming movie called “Please, Baby Please,” and an apparent TV series called “Bring on the Dancing Horses.”

County officials and other contacts have been tight-lipped about the productions, but the Montana Department of Commerce referred The Montana Standard to a story in the Hollywood news publication Deadline discussing the movie.

The Rivulet Media movie stars Demi Moore (Indecent Proposal) Harry Melling (Harry Potter), Karl Glusman (Greyhound) and Andrea Riseborough (Birdman) and filming is underway, according to a Wednesday story in Deadline. Read more from the Montana Standard here


Tribal News

Culture Over Economy: Blackfeet Nation Feeling The Impacts Of COVID-19 Closures

Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana is one of the most-visited parks in the country. But this summer, the Blackfeet Nation made the unprecedented call to close the park’s eastern entrances in hopes of keeping COVID-19 off its reservation.

Victor Yvellez brings us this look at the economic fallout of the tribe’s decision.

When the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park opens for the summer, tourists from across the world flood in, bringing tourism dollars vital to the region’s economy. In a normal year, it attracts around 3 million visitors. But this year wasn’t normal.

This summer, only the occasional vehicle would pass by Frogs Cantina in St. Mary’s, which borders the eastern edge of the park. "Right now we have absolutely nobody going by. And there would be normally a string of cars going by." That’s Cantina owner, David Flamand.

Visitation to the park this year was down 48 percent according to National Park data. Since the start of the pandemic, all visitors came in through the park’s western entrances; none came through the east, where Flamand operates. "Normally we'd have 30 cars in the parking lot, if not more."

Flamand is just one of around 8,000 members who live on or near the Blackfeet Reservation, and his business falls within reservation boundaries, along with the eastern edge of the park. When the pandemic hit the U.S., the tribe paid attention from the get-go. James McNeely, interim Public Information Officer for the tribe, explains why.

"As you know, we went through the smallpox epidemic back in the latter 1800s, which wiped out two thirds of the Blackfoot confederacy in its entirety. Then, of course, the Spanish Flu that came in 1918." McNeely estimates that the Blackfeet Nation is down to less than 20 fluent speakers, and has been in danger of losing its language for more than 30 years. McNeely says with the onset of the virus, the tribe focused on protecting its culture over its economy. Read or listen to the full story from MTPR here


Outdoor Recreation

Flathead National Forest Seeks Input on Winter Recreation & Guiding

The Flathead National Forest is accepting public comment on winter 2020/21 recreation events and temporary outfitting and guiding activities across the forest. The activities would take place between December 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021.

The events and activities include things like a cross-country ski event, avalanche training, snowmobile and snow bike tours, and guided skiing, among others. The Forest Service authorizes these types of activities to expand recreation access to the public and provide tourism jobs for the local economy. Click here for the full press release. 

Additional information and maps for all the projects can be found on the Flathead National Forest website. The Forest will update the website with additional information about the status of each permit as it is reviewed by specialists and any permits are issued. The public should submit comments by November 6, 2020 to  

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

Big Sky, Belgrade, Bozeman, West Yellowstone 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.

MontanaTravel Industry Aces Talk About Bucket List Destinations—Staying curious, with a persistent urge to learn about other cultures, destinations, and landscapes is what will connect us as humans during these uncertain times when we have to stick closer to home to be safe. Currently, we can’t cross many international borders, but we can continue to dream about far-flung locales, discover the extraordinary bits, and map out our next adventure for when travel is given a green light again.

Syncing up with travel writers, editors, and public relations professionals, several bucket-list destinations have been highlighted. Read about countries across the globe and American national parks that have gathered these industry champions into their collective grasps, keeping them engaged and absorbed. Antarctica, Rajasthan, Patagonia, Montana, Peru—these are some of the dreamy locales that have captivated these tourism industry mavens, giving them indelible memories to draw upon, even now, while safely situated at home. Read more from Forbes here


New Study: Airplane COVID-19 Risk Very Low with Precautionary Safety Measures

The Aviation Public Health Initiative (APHI) is studying current aircraft, airline, and airport practices and their impact on public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. A team of environmental, infectious disease and social scientists assembled by the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative is reviewing current research as well as analyses conducted by the industry.

The findings will report on strategies and tactics to reduce risks of disease transmission during air travel. The study is from phase one of their “Gate-to-Gate” report, looking at strategies and practices to reduce health risks while flying during the pandemic.

Key Findings:

  • There is a very low risk of virus transmission on airplanes because airlines have put in place multiple layers of mitigation including hospital-grade air filtration and ventilation, mask requirements, significant disinfection, boarding and deplaning practices, and health forms that travelers complete prior to flights.
  • Airplane ventilation is so effective that it reduces the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 to a point that it “effectively counters the proximity travelers are subject to during flights”.
  • Because of the frequent exchange of air on planes coupled with the use of HEPA filters, over 99% of the particles containing the virus are removed from cabin air.
  • A layered non-pharmaceutical intervention approach, with ventilation gate-to-gate, reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission onboard aircraft below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out.

For the full phase one report, click here.

Other News

Yellowstone Picks Canyon for Pilot Automated Shuttle

Driverless, electric, low-speed shuttle vehicles are coming to Yellowstone National Park — and soon. A contractor will start running the automated vehicles in late May in the Canyon Village area, shuttling visitors to yet-to-be-determined stops near the campground, commercial buildings and lodging areas.

The vendor, Beep Inc. Shuttles, was selected for the pilot program, which will run through next August. Read more from Jackson Hole News & Guide here.

Funding Resources

Montana Main Street Program Grant Application Cycle Opens December 8, 2020!

The Montana Main Street Program awards grant funding to member communities on a competitive basis and as funding allows. Applications are evaluated by the Department of Commerce in the order that they are received and grants will be awarded on a continual basis until all funds are allocated. 

Funding can be used to address long range community planning and revitalization needs as well as more specific prioritized projects. Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate the implementation of larger community vision and goals or as they relate to previous or concurrent larger planning efforts (such as a downtown revitalization plan, growth policy, historic preservation plan, etc.). For more information or to apply, click here

If you have questions regarding the application process or guidelines, please contact our office to work with a Community Development Division team member at 406.841.2770 or by email at

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

FWP Recreation Grant Program Application Cycle Now Open

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is now accepting grant applications for four recreation grant programs 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

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:

  • 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.  

Other Dates/Events to Note

Social Media Marketing: From Beginner to Selling Online Series from SBDC

  • November 12, 2020 (3:00-4:00 p.m.)Get Your Local Business on Google Search and Maps:Showing up when customers are searching online is more important than ever. Ensure customers can find accurate, updated information about your local business on Google Search and Google Maps, no matter which device they use. In this workshop, you will learn how to create and manage a Google business profile from start to finish. To register for this workshop, click here
  • November 19, 2020 (2:00-3:00 p.m.)Sell Online with E-Commerce Tools:More shoppers are headed online than ever before! In this workshop, we will discuss a variety of ways you can sell your product online and how to choose the right software and platform for your business. To register for this workshop, click here

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 spring of 2021. To learn more or register, click here

January 11-February 28, 2021—Cultural Heritage Tourism Certificate Program (Online)—The Professional Certificate Program in Cultural Heritage Tourism, produced by AIANTA (American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association) in partnership with the George Washington University, is designed to provide tourism entrepreneurs and community leaders with tools to identify assets and develop tourism programs that preserve cultural identity and authenticity.

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