Friday Flash 11/20/2020

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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Please note: There will be no Friday Flash on November 27, 2020. We wish everyone a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Marketing Method Evaluation/End-of-Year Reporting Must be Completed by the January 1, 2021 Deadline!

In order to meet that date, organizations should have already 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, into the appropriate FY20 WebGrants form. A review of this requirement is underway.  

The next step is one-on-one virtual meetings to go over the reporting in WebGrants to identify any issues that need attention in order to have time to correct and resubmit. The Zoom meetings will be scheduled with each organization over the next four weeks (November 16—December 16). Please contact Kev Campbell to request a meeting date.

Resources are available. 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.


Governor Bullock Announces New Public Health Measures to Curb COVID-19 Cases

Governor Steve Bullock on Tuesday announced new public health measures to limit capacity in bars, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and casinos, to limit public gatherings to 25 individuals where social distancing is not possible, and to require face coverings in all counties regardless of case count beginning on Friday, November 20 to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Montana. Governor Bullock also announced he would direct unspent Coronavirus Relief Funds to aid businesses impacted by the restrictions and provide $200 a week in additional unemployment benefits to Montanans for four weeks.

We must find a way to make it through these coming winter months. We need all Montanans to recognize that there is widespread community transmission, and your risk of becoming infected with the virus increases the more you engage in gatherings of any kind,” Governor Bullock said. “We all have to collectively recognize that this virus won’t stop spreading through our communities on its own. If we come together and follow the restrictions, we can curb some of the spread we are seeing.”

Governor Bullock’s directive places new restrictions to limit gatherings as cases in Montana and across the nation have spiked over the last several weeks. Restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos can operate at a maximum of 50 percent capacity, and can close no later than 10 p.m. Tables will be limited to six people per table and establishments are still required to maintain social distancing.

Governor Bullock’s directive also modifies the requirements described in the July 15 Directive providing for the mandatory use of face coverings in certain settings and the August 12 Directive providing for the mandatory use of face coverings in all K-12 schools to apply in all counties statewide, whether or not a county has identified four active cases.

Public gatherings will be limited to 25 individuals where social distancing is not possible or observed. The directive exempts places of worship which remain subject to the 50 person limit provided in phase two where social distancing can be maintained. Leaders are encouraged to ensure social distancing and encourage virtual services where possible. The directive does not alter current requirements for schools.

Governor Bullock also strongly encouraged Montanans to limit their involvement of any private in-person gatherings of 15 or more people, as private social gatherings are a significant contributor to the spread of the virus.

To support businesses impacted by restrictions, the Governor will be providing another round of the Business Stabilization Grants to the existing businesses that have been vetted through the process and have received prior funding. A total of $75 million will be available to businesses. Businesses who have already received Business Stabilization Grants will receive an email inviting them to accept a third round of funding. To be eligible for funding, businesses must agree to comply with all state and local COVID-19 orders including requiring masks, social distancing, capacity, and closing time restrictions.

Governor Bullock will also be providing $25 million to the Montana Department of Labor & Industry to provide eligible Montanans who are unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 disruptions with a supplemental payment of $200 a week for four weeks beginning on the week ending November 28 and ending December 19. To receive this support, eligible recipients do not need to apply separately. Individuals will receive the benefit if they keep filing their regular payment requests in or The full directive can be read here

Montana Aware Toolkit

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

As part of the CARES Tourism Safety Grant program, our Tourism Regions and CVBs have created safety inspired videos that are currently playing on social media platforms, partner websites, and TV stations across Montana. They have also utilized the funds to distribute information and other measures to keep Montana residents and visitors safe. Below are a few of the videos and other efforts that our partners are making as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Montana Aware Badge

Central Montana

This "Family Adventures" video encourages the viewer to be inspired to explore Central Montana's vast landscapes with a travel responsibly message of safety first, adventure second.

Central MT
SEMT SafeOutHere

Southeast Montana

This video reminds the viewer to Know Before You Go and follow guidelines to "Stay Safe Out Here". 

Southwest Montana

This video asks the viewer to dream of the incredible adventures that are waiting for you and when the time is right, "We'll Be Here". Dig the Distance. Dig the Views.

Friend of the Fish


This video features 12 Whitefish locals, and encourages being a "Friend of The Fish" by wearing a mask, physical distancing, and washing hands frequently.

Yellowstone Country

This video reminds the viewer that whether they are heading off the beaten path or tending toward the more traveled one, to "Play it Safe". 

Yellowstone Country
WY Wellness Kit

West Yellowstone

Wellness kit that includes sanitizer, sunscreen, insect repellent, bite relief spray and after sun spray along with the “Explore Safely & Responsibly” message on it.


Safety bag with Montana Aware info, hand sanitizer and mask. 

Glendive Safety Kit

COVID-19 Relief Funding

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 9 from Destination Analysts

The alarming trajectory of the pandemic in the U.S. has hit travel sentiment and trip plans hard for the near-term, but American optimism about the safety of 2021 travel soared on Pfizer’s vaccine announcement.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • As daily cases exceeded 180,000 in the last few days, Americans’ concerns about contracting COVID-19 rose right alongside. 60.7% believes the pandemic will be getting worse in the next month; just 14.3% feels it will get better.
  • The trajectory of the pandemic continues to depress how Americans feel about travel for the near-term, with excitement levels for taking a potential getaway in the next month and openness to travel inspiration declining, while loss of interest in travel for the time being and guilt traveling increase.
  • This latest surge in COVID-19 cases has resulted in actual trip cancellations and postponements (47.4%), as well as the loss of trips that may have come to fruition if the pandemic was on a better course. Now 62.8% express that what’s happening with the pandemic has made them less likely to travel in the next 3 months.
  • While feelings about travel in the short-term may be depressed, there continue to be positive indicators for travel’s future. The perception of travel and leisure activities as unsafe has not gone back up to peak levels recorded in July and April. Americans’ travel state-of-mind remained steadfast.
  • In total, 23.1% of American travelers have taken a trip by air during the pandemic and 58.1% have taken a road trip. Nearly three-in-ten say they plan to take a holiday season-related trip. In addition, nearly 80% have at least tentative trip plans for some time in the next year.
  • Over 60% of American travelers said Pfizer’s announcement that their experimental vaccine is likely more than 90 percent effective at preventing the Coronavirus disease made them more or much more optimistic that they can travel safely in 2021. For the nearly half of American travelers who say they would feel guilty traveling right now, two-thirds of this group says an effective vaccine would assuage this guilt.
  • When American travelers were asked to name a celebrity or public figure that they think would be best to market a national coronavirus vaccine program, Dr. Anthony Fauci, came out on top.
  • We are reminded this week about the positivity of travel on human culture. Nearly half of American travelers say they are likely to support minority-owned businesses on their next trip, and over half are likely to support businesses that they believe make a positive societal impact wherever their travels take them next.

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 406.438.7011. 

    Guests will receive an invitation to attend a Zoom meeting along with the agenda for the upcoming meeting. This is a change from the previous meeting platform used (GoToMeeting) and will allow for enhanced communications. Please remove any previously scheduled Tourism Partner calls with GoToMeeting from your calendar.
    Those new to Zoom may find support online by visiting
    • 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 

MOTBD Staff Update


Marketing Bureau Chief

We are excited to announce that Marlee Iverson has been selected as the Marketing Bureau Chief for MOTBD.

Born and raised in rural Central Montana, Marlee Iverson's love for the state started out at an early age. She graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman and came to work for the State of Montana. Marlee has been involved with the state’s tourism marketing program in all of her positions with the Department of Commerce. She began as the Publicity/Publications Assistant, then she transitioned to the position of Group Travel Specialist before taking on the role of the International Travel Trade Manager. During this critical time of COVID response, Marlee stepped in as interim Marketing Bureau Chief.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Traveling the world and promoting Montana has been a true passion. Her vast familiarity with the bed tax budget, marketing campaigns, the international and domestic traveler, the working relationships within the Marketing Bureau as well as the division, and great relationships with partners make her a great leader for the Department of Commerce's Marketing Bureau. Please join us in welcoming Marlee to her new role.

Tourism Grant Program

Applications for Tourism Grants due by November 30! 

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 the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we encourage you to support your local businesses when possible. 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   


Native American Made in Montana

In Montana, we take authenticity seriously. The Native American Made in Montana badge honors the authentic cultures, creations, and values that represent Indian Country across Montana.

Sovereign tribal territory spread across Montana makes up nine percent of the land base in Montana. Tribal members live on and off the reservation, innovating new products as well as creating traditional arts and crafts. You can find those products at

Montana Film Office

"Big Sky" on ABC

You may have seen the advertising on ABC for a new series called “Big Sky", which premiered this week. It is from Wyoming author CJ Box, and he is not only based in Wyoming but is one of the executive producers of “Big Sky”, produced by David E. Kelly.

While the state of Montana has no editorial involvement with the content of the show, watch closely, and you may see footage of Montana and Helena. Several of the main characters in the story are based out of Helena, hence the work done in the area. For more information on the series, click here

Heritage/Cultural News

AIANTA Offers Complimentary Registration Support for the Professional Certificate Program in Cultural Heritage Tourism

Thanks to NATIVE Act Funding, AIANTA is thrilled to offer complimentary registration support for up to 40 participants! 

The American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA), in partnership with the George Washington University (GWU) International Institute of Tourism Studies, has designed the Professional Certificate Program in Cultural Heritage Tourism. The online program brings together industry experts who help students explore the importance of including authentic Native American cultural experiences in their tourism planning.

Individuals who have an interest in the cultural and economic impacts of tribal tourism within your community should apply. Individuals interested must be a Tribal/Native tourism professional or working in tribal tourism or cultural heritage program. Individuals must also be an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe. For more information on eligibility requirements, please visit our website here

Outdoor Recreation

Montana Access Project Path Ahead Webinar Series:

November 24, 2020 (11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.)—Montana's Zoom Towns: Is Outdoor Recreation Access The New Gold Rush?—In this next webinar, panelists will discuss how Covid 19 has accelerated the “zoom town” phenomenon. Now that technology enables businesses and workers to work where they want to live, quality access to outdoor recreation can tip the scales in recruiting and retaining talent, but not without impacts. Form more information or to register for this webinar, click here

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

KalispellKalispell Chamber Embarks on New Leadership—As the Kalispell business community looks to the future and what lies beyond the pandemic, it will have a new leader to help navigate that path forward. After 24 years at the helm of the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, Joe Unterreiner has passed the baton to the Chamber’s new leader, Lorraine Clarno. “It is just truly my honor and privilege to be stepping into Joe’s very, very big shoes,” Clarno said Thursday as she introduced herself to the Flathead County commissioners. Read more from the Daily Interlake here

Glacier and Yellowstone National ParksThis Bucket List Road Trip Covers 12 of America’s Best National Parks in One 5,600-mile Route—In the early 1900s, national parks were largely playgrounds for the wealthy. Visitation often numbered in the tens of thousands, with itineraries fulfilled via expensive rail tickets, stagecoach tours, and horseback rides.

When automobiles joined the scene, the average American — fresh from their own pandemic — had a chance to hit the open road, an opportunity to see the country like never before. But in this case, the “open road” was a muddy path or dusty trail, if it existed at all. And our national parks were still wild expanses barely fit for mules.

So, in 1920, 12 Americans — representing groups like the National Park-to-Park Highway Association and AAA — set out from Denver, Colorado, for a 5,600-mile road trip, lassoing 12 national parks into one massive loop. Their goal? To draw publicity and tourism to the country’s public lands and to push for driveable roads that connect them.

The great American road trip was born. (Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.) Read more from Travel + Leisure here.

Other News

Promotion and Preservation: Best Practices in Rural Destination Management

The National Association for Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) recently held a webinar for its members and has kindly made the recording available. The webinar was presented by Daniel Eades and Doug Arbogast, State Specialists with the West Virginia University Extension Service.

Their research interviews with rural destination management organization leaders reveal innovative examples of how rural tourism stakeholders and external partners can develop a destination management framework which allows communities to effectively cope with the decentralized, multi-player, multi-stakeholder nature of rural tourism, and balance their dual mandates of preservation and visitation growth. Their study demonstrates how rural destinations are leveraging local assets and creating new organizational structures to balance economic development, sustainable tourism, and quality of life. The results provide real-world examples of how other rural DMOs might creatively address similar situations and the role Extension can play in facilitating rural tourism innovations. To watch the webinar, click here

The Role of COVID-19 Testing in the Recovery of Travel

The full recovery of travel will depend on many factors—but what role can swift, reliable and available testing have to accelerate the return of safe travel? Dr. Mike Parkinson, U.S. Travel's chief medical consultant, breaks down the different types of tests being used, the reliability of each and what value they may or may not have for the recovery of the travel industry. Hear from MGM Resorts International on how they are utilizing testing, among other measures, to create a layered approach for healthier and safer environments throughout their venues and events. To learn more and view the webinar from the U.S. Travel Association, click here

The Present & Future of Live Events

They are exhilarating. They raise our spirits. They bring us together. But the future of in-person concerts, festivals and live events is currently uncertain. Although 75 percent of those Americans who actually attended a live event since the onset of the pandemic in March felt “safe” or “very safe” at said event, nearly nine-in-ten American travelers report they have not purchased any tickets for an upcoming live event. Moving forward, how can the event production world deliver the thrill and the magic, while keeping us socially distant and safe? Destination Analysts Senior Research Director, Myha Gallagher, interviewed three major event producers who shared what they foresee to be the future of live events for the short and long term. Read below for key takeaways and watch the full discussion from the weekly Destination Analysts webinar here.

DMO Checklist: 6 Signs You've Found a Great Content Creator

Use this checklist to spend your budget (and your time) wisely as you search for your DMO’s next content creator. The right content creator is an invaluable asset for your destination’s media mix – but how do you choose the right person amid the flood of skilled professionals looking for work?

With the travel industry undergoing drastic changes, many content creators are looking to innovate and broaden their networks. As these creatives seek new connections, your destination marketing organization (DMO) might be receiving more pitches than ever before. The talent field is wider than ever, which can make choosing the right creator more difficult.

Choosing talent is a crucial skill for destination marketing leaders to develop. At Destination Campbell River, we continually receive pitches and refine our selection process along the way. We’re sharing our six-point checklist and some strategic thinking in the hope that it will help other DMOs save time vetting content creators and lead to long-term partnerships.

Checklist: Six signs that a content creator might be right for your DMO

  1. They don’t lead with a request for compensation
  2. They’ve researched your destination properly
  3. Their media kit is relevant to your destination
  4. They’re flexible with dates and skilled at communication
  5. They deliver work on time
  6. They provide the details you need to make a decision in today’s context

Read more from the Destination Think! blog 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

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