Friday Flash 3/19/21

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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 
  • May 4, 2021—Region/CVB FY22 Marketing Plans due to MOTBD in WebGrants
  • June 14-15, 2021—TAC Meeting (Via Zoom)
  • July 20, 2021—Region/CVB 4th Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • October 4, 2021—TAC Meeting

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.

Made in Montana

Choose Local

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   

Jennco Designs

MIM Members in the News

Jennco Designs Featured in New Show "Assembly Required"—In the episode titled "Bring the Heat", Tim Allen and Richard Karn (also known as the Tool Time guys) put the maker's skills to the test when they have them create an all-season leaf blower that can also melt ice and snow. But before they can play with fire, they have to prove they can put one out by creating a class A fire extinguisher. Can the makers bring the heat needed to melt Tim and Richard's hearts or will they be left out in the cold? Watch the episode or learn more about the show which airs on Tuesdays on the History Channel here


Celebrate Agriculture During National Ag Week—National Ag Week, a time to celebrate agriculture, is March 21-27 with National Ag Day March 23. Agriculture remains the number-one industry for Montana, outpacing mining, tourism and forestry products along with oil and gas. Montana agriculture is diverse and known throughout the world for its wheat, beef, pulse crops and barley, plus the state’s farmers and ranchers produce plenty of other agricultural products including bees/honey, cherries, sugar beets, corn, canola, seed potatoes, dairy products, hogs, chickens/eggs and more.

Ag Facts to remember:

  • One US farm produces food and fiber for 166 people. Of those, 106 are in the US, 60 are outside of the US.
  • There are 3.4 million US farmers and ranchers who work on 2 million farms/ranches.
  • Today 98% of all US farms are owned by individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. Just 2% of America’s farms and ranches are owned by non-family corporations or other entities.
  • Eighty-seven percent of US ag products sold are produced on family farms or ranches. Non-family corporations or other entities account for only 13% of US ag product sales.
  • In 2018, $139.6 billion worth of American agricultural products were exported around the globe. The top three customers, accounting for 40% of exports, were Canada, Mexico and the EU.

Read more from Roundup Web here

Montana Ag Network: Abundant Montana Connects Producers with BuyersIt’s no secret that there are a number of Montanans who prefer eating locally raised meat and produce when possible. Abundant Montana is helping connect producers across the state with potential buyers, and has been a benefit for many organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 paramedic has had a huge impact on agriculture producers across the nation. Last March saw supply lines crippled and national buyers not making the same levels of purchases they had been. “COVID-19 really made a lot of consumers realize the value of connecting with their local food system,” said Lindsay Ganong with AERO/Abundant Montana. “Abundant Montana is really the go to place to find local food, learn tips and tricks about using local food and staying connected with the growing local food scene.” Read more from KTVH here

Learning Opportunity

March 25, 2021 (11:00 a.m.)—The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) Presents a Webinar: Learn a Strategic Approach to Pricing New ProductsThe Pandemic is rolling into its 12th month and we’ve all seen life – and business – change around us. It has also given us the opportunity to contemplate new adventures, new projects, new businesses, and new food products to make and sell.

In this webinar, Gail Nickel-Kailing, an experienced food marketing professional, will give a strategic business approach to pricing new products and new variations on current products. Gail will explain how to price strategically to offer your product at a logical and competitive price point. By working through a detailed worksheet, you’ll analyze all the “total cost” of producing your food product: ingredients, labor, packaging, overhead, and margins (your profit, a distributor’s profit, and the retailer’s profit).

While this is not intended to be a product marketing workshop, Gail will also touch on product positioning, messaging, and labeling as she goes along. For those residents of Montana, new opportunities for producers to get involved with Montana Harvest of the Month will be shared.

You can register for the webinar here. After registration, be on the lookout for a follow-up email that will give access to a Excel pre-webinar worksheet. This worksheet is to be partially filled out BEFORE the webinar begins. For more information, contact Lizzie at

2021 Made in Montana Tradeshow 

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

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 Office

Montana-Made True Crime Thriller ‘Ted K’ Premieres at Top International Film Festival

Filmed on-location in Montana, the true-life crime thriller “Ted K” recently premiered at Berlinale, one of the top film festivals in the world.

The film was largely shot in and around Lincoln, Montana, where producers held a local casting call when filming began in 2018. Film production infused more than $150,000 in wages and another $63,000 in local lodging revenue to the community.

Filming movies, television shows and commercials in Montana elevates awareness about our state and brings outside dollars into our local businesses, hotels, and communities,” Montana Film Commissioner Allison Whitmer said. “Montana has been growing as a home for independent cinema thanks to our spectacular, unspoiled nature, charming and vibrant towns and rural areas of our state, which allow us to facilitate authenticity in productions with all that Montana has to offer as the ultimate filming location.”

The film received funding from the Big Sky Film Grant through the Montana Film Office, which is part of the Montana Department of Commerce. The Big Sky Film Grant builds partnerships with filmmakers and production companies by providing seed funding to enable the creation of jobs and economic impact related to filmmaking production, enhance the marketing of Montana’s tourism regions, people, history, overall quality of life and support Montana’s filmmaking industry.

“Ted K” tells the story of the infamous Ted Kaczynski, known to the world as “The Unabomber,” who built and sent bombs through the mail and evaded police for almost two decades until his arrest at his small cabin near Lincoln in 1996. In addition to being invited to premiere on the international stage, “Ted K” is also receiving positive reviews from Hollywood critics.

We were committed to making this film as authentic as possible, so we knew there was no other place to shoot it other than in Lincoln, Montana,” said “Ted K” producer Matt Flanders. “We simply could not have succeeded without the breathtaking landscape, the unique locations, and the warmth and openness of the people of Lincoln. Having grown up in Helena, I was always aware of the helpful nature of Montanans, but we were completely overwhelmed by the support we received in the making of this film.”

The film will be distributed by NEON and Super LTD, the team behind last year’s Academy Award winning film "Parasite." A release date for "Ted K" has not yet been selected.

Learn more about the Montana Film Office at MONTANAFILM.COM.

Outdoor Rec

Access to East Side of Glacier National Park Reopens

Glacier National Park announces access to the east side of the park will reopen on March 18 at Two Medicine, Cut Bank and St. Mary for foot traffic, skis and snowshoes. Regular winter closures remain in place. Chief Mountain Road will remain closed at the park boundary until road conditions permit.

The entrance at St. Mary allows vehicle traffic on Going-to-the-Sun Road for 1.5 miles until the winter gate closure at St. Mary Campground. Access past the gate is allowed by foot, skiing and snowshoeing as is typical of normal winter seasons. The St. Mary Campground remains closed to winter camping until further notice.

The roads into Cut Bank, and Two Medicine remain closed to vehicle traffic for the winter, but access by foot, skiing and snowshoeing is available past the gates as is typical of normal winter seasons. Construction began on Many Glacier Road on March 15 and is closed to vehicular traffic and closed to hiker/biker traffic Monday through Friday through May 28.

Visitors are reminded that winter conditions are unpredictable and can quickly become dangerous. Visitors should prepare for icy conditions, high winds, and snow. Cellular communications in the park are extremely limited.

Access to the park east of the Continental Divide has been closed since March 2020 to protect the Blackfeet Indian Reservation population from COVID-19 due to high-risk members of the community. The decision to allow access to the east side was made after close consultation between health officials from the National Park Service, Indian Health Service, the Blackfeet Tribe, Glacier County and the state of Montana.

Yellowstone National Park Cycle Only Days

Every spring and fall, bicycling, including e-bikes, may be permitted on park roads while they’re closed to motorized, public travel. Electric or pedal-assist bikes are considered to be bikes (as opposed to motor vehicles). Spring bicycling season usually starts by early April (there is no set date). Designated routes are only opened when snow removal and other pre-season business can accommodate cyclists. Please note that roads may not be plowed on weekends and snowfall can be heavy at times. The following road segments may be opened to bicycling each spring:

  • Mammoth Hot Springs to the West Entrance
  • East Entrance to the east side of Sylvan Pass (six miles from the entrance)
  • South Entrance to West Thumb

For current information on bicycling in Yellowstone, click here

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

WhitefishWhitefish ranks #1 as Expedia Travelers Rank the USA's Friendliest Cities of 2021—After a year in which vacations were few or far between, what better way to ease back into traveling than by choosing a town where you're sure to receive a warm welcome? As travelers begin to plan their spring and summer getaways,® is helping narrow down the possibilities by ranking the friendliest towns and cities for 2021.

Did a local provide an outstanding dinner recommendation? Were you greeted with smiles and hellos (or at least smiling eyes over a mask)? Was there just overall feel-good energy? These might be some of the random acts of friendliness that earned these towns the highest mentions of "friendly, friendliest, amiable," and other word associations and related linguistic connections based on traveler reviews from January 2019 to December 2020. Read more from Expedia here

YellowstoneYellowstone Prepares for Busy Season with More Staff, More Facilities Open—After last spring’s delayed opening of Yellowstone National Park, as the nation struggled with a burgeoning pandemic, superintendent Cam Sholly is looking at a much more optimistic scenario this year. “I would say I feel a lot better than I did last year at this time,” he said. “We’ve had a whole year of refining mitigation procedures and protocol. Last year was all so foreign.”

Along those lines, the park has a goal to vaccinate all of its permanent frontline workers by the middle of next month and will supply vaccines for seasonal workers, as well. With more employees better protected, Sholly said he is confident about opening all of the park’s main visitor centers, although there will be a limit on the number of people allowed inside.

Likewise, park concessionaires will start with 60 percent of their hotel rooms, campsites and cabins within the park open to the public, possibly opening more as the season goes on, Sholly said. Park stores will be open and food service will include some sit-down opportunities on a limited scale, he added. Yellowstone Forever, the park's fundraising and education arm, is poised to hire more seasonal staff this year, according to Lisa Diekmann, president and CEO. Read more from the Billings Gazette here

COVID-19 Research

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of March 15 from Destination Analysts

Americans appeared to respond to the nation’s vaccination vision with increased optimism and record-setting travel sentiment and expected trips for their 2021. Still, the travel industry cannot lose sight that COVID-19 continues to be top-of-mind, with 43.1% of Spring Break travelers saying they remain “very concerned” about contracting the virus on their trip.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • American travelers’ response to President Biden’s announcement of the vaccination vision for America was a record number saying that the COVID vaccines are safe, a record number of parents saying they will get their children vaccinated, and a record number saying they have planned a trip specifically in anticipation of vaccines. In total, 61.9% of American travelers say they have or will get vaccinated, up 5% from last week. Vaccine jealousy is a thing, too: 43.5% of all American travelers report feeling jealous of those that have already received their vaccine.

  • Americans’ optimism about the course of the pandemic is up a staggering 40 percentage points since the start of the year, with 60.3% feeling things will get better in the next month.

  • This optimism especially shines through in their feelings towards travel. Fully two-thirds are now in a travel readiness state-of-mind. Americans rate their level of excitement about travel this year a 6.6, up from 6.2 in just the past week. Americans set another pandemic record in their openness to travel inspiration, hitting 6.5. Nearly half can now be motivated by discounts and deals to take a trip they had not previously considered.

  • A factor in this growing openness and excitement towards travel is certainly an increasing sense of safety. A majority of American travelers no longer feel unsafe traveling in taxis or rideshares, visiting indoor attractions, dining in restaurants, shopping, flying on airplanes and staying in hotels. This week, 41.5% are firmly confident they can travel safely in the current environment, up nearly 5 percentage points since the week prior, and 17 percentage points since January 3rd.

  • Still, COVID continues to be top-of-mind and should not be discounted in travel messaging. As an example, 43.1% of Spring Break travelers say they remain “very concerned” about contracting the virus on their trip.

  • Over 70% of American travelers dreamt of or planned travel in the past week, and these actions look to increasingly be turning into trips. The average number of leisure trips Americans are reporting they will take in 2021 increased this week to 3.0 after hovering at 2.8 for much of the year. All months from June forward saw increases in the percent of Americans who said they had trips at least tentatively planned in them.

  • Fully 15.0% of American travelers said they made travel reservations and/or bookings in the last week, largely for hotels and airline tickets. In fact, 35.5% of American travelers say their very next trip by air will be by August.

  • In looking at what attributes are important to travelers as they consider cities as places to visit, safety still remains largely on top, with 74.3% saying this is important. A relaxing environment, good weather, welcoming atmosphere, ease in getting around and scenic beauty are also most critical.

  • Where the pandemic is still most challenging the experiences travelers typically seek from urban destinations is in sports, festivals, performing arts and other live events, but other tenets such as museums and dining scene are also still seen as challenged.

  • Americans are returning to a comfort with tourism closer to home. A pandemic-record 52.1% now feel comfortable going out for leisure activities within their own community. While 46.9% of Americans still agree they don’t want tourists in their own community yet, this is down 12 percentage points since the start of the year. Another pandemic record 47.7% said they would be happy if they saw an ad promoting their community for tourism when safe, up from 35.1% January 3rd.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here

Montana Aware

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

Funding Resources

Trail Stewardship Partner Funding Available for Trail Maintenance Efforts on USFS LandsDeadline Extended Until April 9, 2021!

The Trail Stewardship Partner Funding Program will award funds to trails and stewardship organizations for increasing trail maintenance accomplishments and reducing deferred maintenance (trail backlog) on National Forest System trails. Funding will be available for all types of terra trails (summer use trails), for both motorized and non-motorized uses. To learn more or apply for this opportunity, click here

USDA Value-Added Producer Grant Program

The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities and increase producer income.

You may receive priority if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative or are proposing a mid-tier value chain. Grants are awarded through a national competition. To learn more or apply for this grant, click here.

Other News

Are You Ready if Tourism Recovers Faster than Expected?

The long-awaited recovery may happen sooner than we thought. Part of our work in digital destination marketing education is to be your scouts. Your “ear to the ground.” Your no-nonsense advisors about trends. Lately, we have a sense that significant tourism industry recovery may happen a bit earlier than many had expected.

Conventional wisdom seemed to peg Fall/Winter of 2021 as the return of “semi-normal” times, with more complete recovery well into 2022. Now, thanks to climbing worldwide COVID vaccination rates – especially in the U.S., with multiple vaccines available plus more aggressive Federal action – we may see recovery happen a lot faster in some areas.

The latest Longwoods Travel Sentiment Study indicates that 84% of American travelers have travel plans in the next six months. Skift reports that United, Delta, and Alaska Airlines are near break even or positive cash flow this month. Some DMOs like Houston report that they are “preparing for a bumper second half of 2021, with a record amount of [in-person] conventions already scheduled.” Read more from Tourism Currents here

Culinary Trails Helping Restaurants Through Pandemic

The Indiana Foodways Alliance launched in 2007 with a mission to promote locally-owned restaurants around the state. The nonprofit's biggest initiative is the creation of 19 culinary trails, more than any other state in the country. One of the most popular trails is the Tenderloin Lovers Trail, which includes 72 stops and the IFA's Lindsey Skeen says the trails are helping restaurants as they navigate through the impact of the pandemic.

Around INdiana Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman visited a few stops on the Tenderloin Lovers Trail. Patrick Rice, owner of The Tin Plate in Elwood, said they've taken a hit because of the pandemic. "We are down about 40% for the year of 2020," said Rice. "Through the help of Indiana Foodways, we have still been able to get people to come in from out of town." Gary Brammer, owner of The Bank in Pendleton, says his restaurant was built on the tenderloin, which is his number one seller. Like The Tin Plate, Brammer says COVID restrictions had a major impact on his restaurant. Read more from Inside Indiana Business here


On October 1, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will officially begin enforcing the REAL ID Act of 2005 at airports. This will require all Americans to present REAL ID-compliant identification to go through security. For specific information on Real ID in Montana, click here

Other Dates/Events to Note

American Trails Presents Advancing Trails Webinar SeriesAmerican 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, 2021 (9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.)Free 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