Friday Flash 2/12/21

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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Save the Dates...

  • Tourism Partner Call—This bi-monthly call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 18 CVBs, the Montana Tourism Advisory Council 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. 
    • March 24, 2021
    • May 26, 2021
    • July 28, 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    • November 24, 2021
  • 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 

Montana Aware Safety Messaging

Montana Aware Badge

Montana Aware Toolkit & Resources

The Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development has been hard at work promoting the safety and wellness of our citizens and visitors through the "Montana Aware Campaign".

Businesses wanting additional resources can access the downloadable toolkit and other information at MARKETMT.COM/ISO/Montana-Aware-Toolkit

Tourism Grant Program

2021 Tourism Grant Update

The 2021 Tourism Grant applications are currently being evaluated. We anticipate making an announcement of 2021 awarded projects in the coming weeks. We encourage you to subscribe to receive email updates from the Department of Commerce for other funding opportunities and news by clicking here.


Our Grants Make a Big Impact in Montana Communities

ZooMontana’s newest resident, Winston the Sloth, is quickly becoming a statewide celebrity. Winston’s new rainforest home was made possible thanks in part to a Montana Department of Commerce Industry Services and Outreach grant through the Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative. Funding was used to build the new habitat and market Winston’s arrival in conjunction with Visit Billings. “The addition of Winston has been incredible”, said Jeff Ewelt, Executive Director of ZooMontana. “Not only does this incredible species allow us to work on new rainforest educational programming, but just as importantly, Winston the Sloth is generating a lot of smiles on folks from all over; something we can all use”, Ewelt added. ZooMontana saw a 60% increase in attendance during the 4th quarter of 2020, which officials attribute to a combination of good weather and the lure of Winston. Planning to visit Winston? Here’s an insider tip – plan to visit around 11:30 a.m. as that is when his morning feeding takes place!

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   

MIM Members in the News

Montana Chocolate Maker Adapts to Keep Going Through Pandemic—Dan Norris is pretty good at figuring things out. That’s true when it comes to his home-based chocolate company called Bear Basecamp, and now steering the business during the pandemic. ”It’s just a matter of how much dedication, effort, and expense you want to pour into it to get going," said Norris. "Fortunately I wasn’t shy for that.” 

Operating part-time from his Helena-area home, Dan hit the usual snags at the start of the pandemic that businesses across the country saw, such as cleaning supply shortages. That is not so much of an issues now, but a problem still remains. “The biggest hurdle is just trying to figure out how to substitute the face-to-face interaction," said Norris. "Because those in-person events, you can give people free samples and, you know, it’s a lot easier to sell a food product when somebody can actually, you know, physically try it and be right there to ask you questions about how you’re making it.”

Because of the type of license Dan has from the county, he depends on events like craft fairs and farmer's markets. But much like how he figured out how to make chocolate - his website says he is one of the only 'bean to bar' chocolate manufacturers in Montana - Dan is now learning from trial and error and online resources to keep his business going. Read more or watch the full story from KRTV here

2021 Made in Montana Tradeshow 

The Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food & Gifts was rescheduled for September 10-11, 2021 (TENTATIVE) in Helena MT at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds.

The public health situation in Montana and Lewis and Clark County continues to evolve and a large event in March 2021 is not a feasible option. To keep our Made in Montana members and Montana community safe, we rescheduled the annual show with a tentative plan for a wholesale and public day trade show that aligns with public health guidelines.

Exhibitor registration will open in early May 2021 and wholesale buyer registration will open in early July 2021. We encourage Made in Montana members to verify their membership status and information in the online directory at is accurate and up to date.

Montana Film News

Ariat International

In a series of videos titled "Bring It", Ariat International highlights the Lunak family; Blackfeet/Chippewa, Montana ranchers, rodeo athletes and Hollywood stuntmen. Click here to learn more about this family and watch the series of videos.  


Outdoor Rec

Free Entrance Days in the National Parks

Come experience the national parks! There are five remaining days in 2021. All National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. Mark your calendar for these entrance fee–free dates in 2021:

For more information on the fee free admission, click here. Visitors should check individual park websites and social media channels for details on operations before they visit. Park rangers are on duty to provide information, protect visitors and park resources, and uphold this requirement. Other tips to recreate responsibly are available on

Best Marketing Practices

Destination Missoula—Heroes of Hospitality

While challenging, the pandemic has created new opportunities to bring out the best in us as well. In that spirit, Destination Missoula created a program to recognize frontline workers in the hospitality industry. In its inaugural year, the awards program focused on hotel workers because they viewed them as essential workers throughout the pandemic and may not have received much recognition for the incredible work they have done to keep the visitors who have come both safe and happy.

With 35 nominations for the Hero of the Year Award received, five finalists were selected and one winner, Bob-Be Sparks of Holiday Inn Downtown Missoula. Find the stories of the five finalists and the winner on Destination Missoula’s website. This is just the beginning of this annual campaign. Plans are to widen the scope beyond the hospitality industry and continue to share the stories of incredible people and their accomplishments via the organizations’ website and social media.

"Heroes of Hospitality is a recognition and celebration of the incredible individuals who make up Missoula's hospitality industry. Destination Missoula and the Missoula Tourism Business Improvement District want to share their stories and invite the greater Missoula community to join us in thanking these individuals for their commitment to providing the best Missoula experience to our visitors."—Destination Missoula.

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

ButteEconomic Outlook: Uncertainties Still Clouding Tourism in Butte, SW Montana—The COVID-19 pandemic took a big hit on tourism in Butte and southwest Montana last year and there are still unknowns on the horizon. It’s too early to say, for example, whether the Montana Folk Festival and An Ri Ra Irish festival will return this summer or if concerts, sports tournaments and conventions will bring visitors to Butte once again. But with the rollout of vaccines, albeit it slow, comes optimism that 2021 will be a better year for tourism in these parts and give a much-needed boost to local economies again.

I definitely think there are reasons to be hopeful,” says Maria Pochervina, who directs Butte’s Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Tourism Business Improvement District. “I don’t think that we’re going to be as afraid or visitor travelers are going to be as afraid this summer, this warm season, as they were last year,” she said. “We have a year (of COVID) under our belt so we have a little bit more information.”

Restrictions on businesses, gatherings and travel took a toll for sure, and not all have been lifted completely. There are still local capacity limits for indoor dining, bars can stay open until 12:30 a.m. but not the normal 2 a.m. and most gatherings are limited to 25 people. Read more from the Montana Standard here

COVID-19 Research

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of February 1 from Destination Analysts

For the first time, optimism about the course the pandemic will take in the United States over the next month significantly outweighs pessimism. Nevertheless, Americans are frequently experiencing burn out and cabin fever and thus may need travel more than ever.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • Although financial worries remain elevated, Americans’ anxiety about contracting the coronavirus is down.
  • For the first time ever, optimism about the course the pandemic will take in the United States over the next month significantly outweighs pessimism.
  • Staying safe from infection remains a top priority for Americans as they consider their lifestyle over the next 6 months, although close behind are finding joy and happiness, emotional well-being and relaxation. Compared to the early period of the pandemic last Spring, more Americans say they will prioritize having new experiences, as well.
  • These lifestyle priorities may be in response to negative aspects weighing on mental wellness during this ongoing pandemic. American travelers rate their daily stress levels at 5.6 on a 10-point scale on average. Nearly half of Americans report feeling symptoms of burn out at least half the time in the last month, and an even greater number—53.1%–say they have as frequently felt cabin fever.
  • American travelers’ primary motivations for taking their next trip are far and away to relax and escape stress and spend time with family.
  • Americans remain in a state of openness to travel inspiration that is greater than any other period in the last 11 months (6.0/10).
  • In total, 39.0% of American travelers say they saw one or more ads for travel destinations in the past month, up from 31.1% in December and 17.8% last May. In terms of other types of travel advertising, one-in-five American travelers recall seeing a hotel or resort ad in the last month, and a similar proportion recall seeing an airline ad. Americans continue to be increasingly comfortable with advertisements of their own communities for tourism.
  • The imperative role of COVID-19 vaccines in travel industry recovery continues to be reiterated. Emphasizing the relationship between vaccination rollout and travel volume, over half (53.0%) of American travelers agree they will avoid travel until vaccines are made available. In addition, over a third (36.1%) of parents with school-age children say they will skip the family vacation this summer if their kids are not vaccinated. Nevertheless, the availability of the vaccines continues to be a source of hope and optimism, as well as inspiration to plan and book travel.
  • As of this week, 81.2% of American travelers report they have at least tentative trip plans right now, and 60% have taken some action in the planning tasks for their next trip.
  • About half of Americans anticipate taking at least one leisure trip within the next 3 months. In looking at the accommodations they expect to stay in on these upcoming trips, hotels are most common.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here

Other News

The Exciting but Competitive Future: Looking Ahead for DMOs

In the Fall of 2020, Destination Analysts conducted a survey of over 240 DMO executives about change and disruption in the tourism industry, commissioned by and in partnership with BVK, as one part of their Destination Tailwind: A Strategy Series on transformational change. The findings from this research have important strategic implications for DMOs—from where to focus resources, to the skills that should be hired for in order for these organizations to stay competitive in this increasingly fast-moving world.

When we asked DMOs to describe their organizational purpose and mission with a single response, it’s clear that DMOs see themselves as there to strengthen the local economy and quality of life, far more so than as existing for the purposes of destination promotion or as travel demand generators. But some sense is compelling 70% to agree that their organization needs to change or evolve their mission and purpose.

DMO executives see a need to change in important ways. Nearly all agreed—and 41% strongly—that their organization recognizes the need to transform in response to disruptive industry trends, including changing customer needs, technology, and on a vastly different side, local community and resident sentiment. In fact, in part to this, DMO executives agree the ways they need to change are significant. There is strong agreement across the DMO industry that their organizations need to change or evolve their funding model and even change or evolve their core offerings. Read more from the Destination Analysts blog here

Other Dates/Events to Note

American Trails Presents Advancing Trails Webinar Series

American Trails brings agencies, trailbuilders, advocates, and volunteers the latest in state-of-the-art information on all aspects of trails and greenways. Our webinars focus on a variety of trail topics, usually applicable to all trail types, with expert presenters. Webinar topics are chosen from current cutting-edge trail topics selected from attendee/presenter suggestions as well as recent popular conference sessions. For more information, visit or click on individual webinar links below. 

Upcoming webinars:

May 12, 2021Free International Roundup Supplier SeminarHosted by the Great American West (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota & South Dakota) & Rocky Mountain International, join us for this free virtual seminar to learn more about the international travel recovery process. This seminar will focus on further education about the international tourism industry and bring in key industry players to speak about everyone’s part in the recovery process through collaborative effort.

We cannot welcome international visitors until our borders open and it is safe to travel again. But we are working toward recovery now. If you are a Montana lodging facility, ranch or activity provider and would like to learn how to attract more international guests, as well as learn about recovery efforts and trends in the international markets, please attend this free webinar. You can be part of the recovery process. Suppliers do not need to have attended International Roundup to benefit from this seminar. This supplier opportunity will be hosted virtually and is completely free to any supplier. If you have questions, please reach out to Kim Birrell