Friday Flash 3/26/21

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Yellowstone Country

Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Save the Dates...

  • 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 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 Barb Sanem or call her at 406.841.2769. 
    • May 26, 2021
    • July 28, 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    • November 24, 2021

MOTBD Staff Update

Luke Robinson

Welcome Luke Robinson to the Office of Indian Country Economic Development

We are pleased to announced that Luke Robinson has joined the Department of Commerce as the Entrepreneur Development Specialist overseeing our Indian Equity Fund and our Native American Business Assistance grant programs.

Luke has over seven years of experience working in economic development and comes to us from the Native American Development Corporation in Billings where he served as a loan officer for their Community Development Financial Institution. Luke also has commercial and agricultural banking experience as a credit analyst. He is originally from Lame Deer. 

Luke aspires to unify and strengthen the network of individuals and businesses in Montana that will benefit from resources and assistance available to them. He served as a Native American Business Advisor and received an Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) Certification from the National Development Council. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Fort Lewis College and currently resides in Billings. 

We are excited to have Luke join our team! He can be reached at 406.841.2775 or by email at

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   

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 Continues to Lead the Nation in Wheat, Beef, Pulse Crops and More—Agriculture continues to be Montana’s top industry, with a value near $4.6 billion in 2019, outpacing even tourism, which was around $3.364 billion for the same year. Mining and oil and gas extraction are a more distant third and fourth place, at $1.47 billion and $1.017 billion respectively.

One of every six Montana workers is employed in an agriculture-related field, and its regional marketing centers at Billings, Glasgow, Havre and Miles City all grew up around the grain and cattle market, and ultimately expanded outward to other areas like Richland County.

Montana has nearly 28,000 farms and ranches representing 59.7 million acres, based on the most recent statistics available. The state has achieved worldwide recognition for the quality of many of its products, which range from wheat, beef, barley, pulse crops and sugarbeets.

It’s No. 1 in the nation when it comes to harvested acres for chickpeas, lentils, and dry edible peas, and it’s No. 2 in the nation for spring wheat, durum, barley, canola, flax and safflower. It’s also a leading producer of honey and beef, sheep and lambs.

Genetics from Montana’s livestock are sold around the world as far away as Russia and Argentina, and its high-quality grain for baking appears in countries around the world, including Asia and the Middle East. Read more from the Sidney Herald here.

Montana Film Office

"Yellowstone" Renewed for Season 5 by Paramount Network

Paramount Network has renewed Montana-based TV series Yellowstone for a fifth Season. It seems the powers that be have paid close attention to the ratings and audience for this TV series. Also, renewing helps to lock-in actors and writing staff. Filming for the 5th Season is due to start in July, 2021. Read more from FilmBook here

International Marketing

International Roundup Supplier Seminar

Montana, along with its Great American West partners Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota, and Rocky Mountain International, is hosting a FREE virtual International Roundup Supplier Seminar on May 12, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Hear from tour operators in five international markets and from overseas representatives about the outlook for international travel recovery. Learn what's been happening overseas and about our region's recovery efforts. Click here to learn more about the speakers. Registration is free and will open soon. If you have questions, please contact Kim Birrell.

Tribal Tourism News

Tribal Tourism Digital Business Development Grant

The Office of Indian Country Economic Development (OICED) is pleased to announce the new Tribal Tourism Digital Business Development Grant. 

This is a pilot grant program to help tourism-related entrepreneurs with digital assets to reach potential customers and convert them into sales. 

Eligible project categories include professional content development, website development, and virtual experiences. The maximum award is up to $6,250 per applicant.

The application cycle is open NOW through Friday, April 30.

Although tourism-related businesses may be funded through the Indian Equity Fund too, this is the first OICED grant program specifically designed for them. It’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss. For more information or to apply for this grant, click the button below. 

Apply Now Green

Montana Main Street Program

Montana Main Street Grants Awarded to Revitalize Downtowns in 8 Communities

Eight communities across Montana will share $120,000 through the Montana Department of Commerce’s Montana Main Street Program to revitalize and strengthen their downtown cores.
Montana’s Main Street businesses and downtowns are the foundation of our state’s economy,” Commerce Director Scott Osterman said. “Funding through the Montana Main Street Program invests in communities across our state, encouraging economic growth to make Montana’s local economies stronger and create more opportunities for Montanans.”

  • City-County of Butte-Silver Bow | $12,500 to complete a downtown master plan for Uptown Butte
  • City of Great Falls | $12,500 to create and install wayfinding signage
  • City of Hamilton | $16,000 to create and install wayfinding signage
  • City of Havre | $20,000 to complete a downtown master plan
  • City of Helena | $12,500 to complete a downtown capital improvements plan
  • Lewis and Clark County | $20,000 to complete a Downtown Master Plan for Lincoln
  • City of Red Lodge | $6,500 to complete a Community Parking Study & Access Strategy for the Roosevelt Center
  • Town of Whitehall | $20,000 to develop a preliminary architectural report for the Star Theater

The Montana Main Street Program helps member communities strengthen and preserve their historic downtown commercial districts by focusing on economic development, urban revitalization, and historic preservation through long-range planning, organization, design, and promotion.

Funds can be used for planning or brick-and-mortar projects that support downtown revitalization efforts and require a $1 match from the local community for every $5 received. The program currently serves 34 communities across Montana. For more information about the Montana Main Street Program, visit

Heritage/Cultural News

Hop on the Trail...The Montana Dinosaur Trail

Out here in Southeast Montana, legends loom large over the land. But what’s even bigger than those tales of the past? The actual creatures – now extinct dinosaurs – that inhabited the area millions of years ago.

From the north to the south, east to west these mysterious creatures once roamed what is now the state of Montana when the land looked much different. Think tropical climate, complete with a sea where creatures swam and plants flourished. Now, several eras later, Southeast Montana is a hotbed for dinosaur fossils.

Looking for a way to explore the history of dinosaurs in Montana? Hop on the Montana Dinosaur Trail, made up of 14 locations across the state, specializing in telling the stories of the relatively-unknown. Three locations in Southeast Montana: Carter County Museum, Frontier Gateway Museum and Makoshika State Park will get you started on your adventure.

Make sure to get your very own Prehistoric Passport – sold at any of the locations on the trail. Trail participants can complete the journey in any order over five years – giving you plenty of time to get to all the spots. Once you receive the “Dino Icon” stamp from all 14 places, you’ll be eligible to get the rewards for fulfilling your passport. Read more from the Visit Southeast Montana blog here

Outdoor Rec

On the Road to a Record Year

As Glacier National Park braces for what experts anticipate may be the busiest summer on record, administrators are introducing new tools to navigate a complex set of challenges. On a weekly basis since February, in video-conferencing conclaves with chambers of commerce, tourism bureaus and gateway communities girding Glacier National Park, Superintendent Jeff Mow has performed the unenviable task of describing a “confluence of circumstances” he predicts will beset the Flathead Valley with an exacting set of challenges this summer.

There is no crystal ball to predict the acute nature of 2021,” Mow has said repeatedly. “But all indicators point to a very, very busy season.” “Very busy as in record-setting visitation,” he added, sharpening his point for clarity during a recent meeting with local stakeholders, all of them reliant in one way or another on the throngs of tourists drawn here by Glacier National Park, and all of them aware of the challenges associated with overcrowding. Read more from the Flathead Beacon here

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

BakerIs Baker on the Map?—Focusing on a couple main attractions through marketing and advertising will help put Baker on the map as a tourism destination in eastern Montana. The community could benefit greatly from the revenue tourism could bring in. Baker is a great place to visit with many things to offer and finding out what attracts tourists is the key to successfully marketing the community to visitors.

The Baker Lake is a gorgeous lake for recreation. Summer is perfect for boating, canoeing, or kayaking on the lake for some recreational fun. In addition to the lake itself, the surrounding area is full of amenities for all ages: a splash park for little ones, a skate park for older kids and adults and two beach areas for swimming. There is a park, a volleyball court, gazebo and picnic tables. Let’s not forget the fishing.

The Baker Lake is the largest recreational body of water in this part of Montana. Fallon County has put a huge amount of work into making Baker Lake an ideal place to visit for outdoor recreation. Due to COVID-19, outdoor recreational activities have increased and having a lake in the community is an asset to further the growth of tourism in the city. Read more from the Fallon County Extra here

Bozeman, Kalispell & MissoulaDelta Anticipates Summer Surge With Expanded Service To Over 20 Destinations—As Delta moves into the summer, the airline is adding nine new routes and expanding services on over 20 destinations. The carrier is expecting a summer surge with expanded interest in domestic and short-haul international travel. As Delta takes delivery of some new jets and reactivates existing ones, it is ready to fight against its competitors for as many domestic leisure travelers as possible.

The Mountain West received a lot of attention from travelers in 2020, and it is looking again like a tourist hotspot in 2021. Already a pretty strong market for Delta, the carrier is doubling down with the following new flights:

From Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN):

  • Thrice-weekly service to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York from May 7th, increasing to daily service from May 28th
  • Daily service to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from May 5th
  • Daily service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) from May 28th
  • Saturday-only service to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) from May 29th

From Glacier Park International Airport (FCA):

  • New daily service to LAX starting on May 28th
  • New weekend service to SEA starting on May 29th
  • Weekend service to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) starting from May 29th

From Missoula International Airport (MSO):

  • Weekend service to LAX begins on May 8th
  • Weekend service to ATL begins on May 29th

Read more from Simple Flying here

Red LodgeRed Lodge Becomes 1st MT Town to Join National Movement to Protect Pollinators—Bee City USA, the organization that fosters sustainable habitats for pollinators across the U.S. since 2012, has reached its first Montana city. In a press release, affiliation declared Red Lodge’s commitment to “think globally, act locally” when it comes to pollinator conservation.

The City of Red Lodge first began the process of becoming an affiliate in March of 2019 when the Parks, Trees and Recreation Board brought it to City Council. The Parks Board and City Council were ready to move forward when COVID-19 halted the process in 2020. City Council adopted the Bee City USA Resolution on March 9, 2021. They said affiliation will be managed by the Trees and Bees Subcommittee of the Parks Board.

We are proud to be the first municipality to become a Bee City USA in the state of Montana,” Mayor Bill Larson said. “This is good for our community to be recognized as a place that supports pollinators.”

To become a certified Bee City or Bee Campus USA affiliate, cities and institutions must commit to reviewing their landscape design and maintenance plans with pollinators in mind. They must also develop and publish a recommended species list of locally native plants, trees and shrubs, along with an Integrated Pest Management plan that instructs the City to seek biological controls for managing pests over toxic, chemical management techniques. The City of Red Lodge said they will have a page dedicated to these resources when its new website launches. Read more from KULR8 here

COVID-19 Research

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of March 22 from Destination Analysts

Despite feeling safer and increasingly more positive, many Americans do expect a longer term impact from the pandemic on their travel, from spending less to sticking outdoors.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • New COVID variants, uncertainty on the current COVID vaccines’ effectiveness with such variants, a European third wave, and Spring Break rowdiness made headlines this week, likely contributing to a small but notable rise in pandemic-related anxiety among American travelers.

  • Those highly concerned about their friends and family contracting the virus rose to 71.0% and 63.3% of American travelers are highly concerned about personally contracting COVID-19. Such concern is higher among women, Millennials, urban dwellers, and those residing in the West and Northeast regions of the U.S.

  • Americans’ high concern about the pandemic’s impact on our national economy may play a role in their feelings towards tourism in their own communities. Among the 46.1% of American travelers who report they would be happy to see an ad promoting tourism to their town of residence, by far the most common reason for this is that it would help local businesses (64.8%).

  • Americans began receiving stimulus checks and travel looks to certainly benefit. 38.3% of those who have or are expecting a stimulus check say they are likely to spend some portion of it on leisure travel. This is even more prevalent among Millennial age travelers, who are, in fact, twice as likely as Boomer age travelers to spend their stimulus money on travel.

  • With nearly two-thirds both in a ready-to-travel mindset and highly open to travel inspiration, a 2021 record-high 73.8% of American travelers did some travel planning and dreaming in the last week alone. 15.8% said they made a travel reservation in the last week.

  • In each of the months from May through October, over 20% of American travelers report having at least tentative trip plans.

  • As Americans are feeling far safer with travel than they were just a few months ago, unlike earlier in the pandemic, they are including air travel in their plans. Right now, 43.9% of air travelers deem flying on a commercial airline as safe. Over 45% of air travelers say their very next trip by commercial airline will be by the end of Summer.

  • Despite feeling safer and increasingly more positive, many Americans do expect a longer-term impact from the pandemic on their travel. Nearly 60% agree that the pandemic has changed their outlook on life overall, with over 20% saying significantly. As a result, 46.9% agree they will put more effort into visiting places on their travel bucket list in the next few years.

  • Many in the travel industry have pondered a more permanent tie to public health—they may be on to something as nearly three-quarters of American travelers agree they will be more safety-conscious while traveling going forward.

  • When asked if the pandemic had changed their opinions about the types of destinations they want to visit for leisure in the future, 41.8% of American travelers said yes. For beach, National Park and other outdoor destinations, this is welcome news as 52.2% of Americans agree they will be visiting these types of destinations more as a result of the pandemic. Urban, entertainment and theme park-focused destinations will face greater challenges in the recovery, as 44.6% of American travelers report they are less likely to visit these places in the next few years because of the pandemic.

  • About four-in-ten American travelers expect they will be sticking closer to home and spending less on their leisure travel in the coming years.

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. Paper applications must be postmarked by May 4, 2021. Applications are permitted via and must be received by 11:59 p.m. EST on April 29, 2021. To learn more or apply for this grant, click here.

Other News

Getting Unstuck: How to Bring Your DMO and Stakeholders Beyond Fear to Reimagine Tourism

Building resilience for your destination means not only reimagining how tourism can build a better world, but also acting decisively to bring that world to life.

How can you prepare for post-COVID-19 tourism? You will need to overcome fear to lead your destination and stakeholders through this challenging time. Many aspects of the tourism industry are shifting and they highlight what needs to be done at your destination marketing organization (DMO). Accepting change will help you prepare for the challenges ahead.

Consider how your destination’s entire supply chain will be reorganized, looking ahead at some likely changes:

  • Digital competition will rise, causing your markets and competitive set to change. The pandemic has sped up this trend, causing changes to travel behaviour. Online travel agencies (OTAs) are poised to become even more entrenched and specialized.
  • Your visitors will feel more peer pressure to travel responsibly.
  • Airlines will shrink, disappear, or need to show genuine progress in fighting climate change to survive as more and more places and industries decarbonize.
  • The value of your destination’s tourism experiences will change. Activities and places that were taken for granted – fresh air, health and safety, clean water, locally produced food, and remote locations, for example – will play a more significant role.
  • Travel patterns will likely change forever. As communities seek a more valuable, less extractive tourism industry, their market segmentation will change too.
  • As difficult as it is when our sector is suffering so much, this is the moment to rethink your role in the tourism ecosystem. We have chosen three areas where you might begin.
  • Based on our experience working with hundreds of destinations, almost everyone agrees that these are important evolutions to make. However, fear often stops action.

We challenge you to be proactive in shaping the ever-evolving future of travel. In the long term, your place. In the long term, your community will be better off.

Here are three things to consider as you seek to lead your industry:

  1. Shared ownership: Tourism’s co-created future
  2. Reputation: Perceptions of your whole place
  3. Segmentation: Connect with passionate communities

Read more from the Destination Think! blog 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: