Friday Flash 4/16/21

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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

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.

Terry Kiosk

Our Grants Make a Big Impact in Montana Communities

New signs on kiosks to invite visitors to explore Prairie County—As you drive into Terry, new signs installed on kiosks at the 4-Corners convenience store might catch your eye. One kiosk highlights natural resources, agriculture, and Evelyn Cameron and the other has maps of the Town of Terry and Prairie County. The signs feature colorful photographs from local photographers and QR codes that you can scan with your phone camera or QR reader app to take you to websites to learn more about what Prairie County has to offer. The Prairie County Economic Development Council (PCEDC) was offered the opportunity to take ownership of two kiosks located at the intersection of Old Highway 10 and Highway 253 in 2018. 

This project was made possible thanks in part to a Montana Department of Commerce Industry Services and Outreach grant of $5,250 through the Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative along with contributions from local businesses and volunteers.

Governor's Conference on Tourism & Recreation

Rims in Billings

Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Recreation—April 17-19, 2022 in Billings

The annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Recreation has been moved to April 17-19, 2022 in Billings. We are eager to gather in-person next April to bring together tourism and recreation leaders from every corner of the state.

The Governor’s Conference will continue to elevate the industry by inspiring innovation, educating through on-the-ground insights, connecting tourism and recreation partners and businesses, and drawing inspiration from nationally renowned speakers. We are working closely with our Billings partners to offer some unique local experiences. Stay tuned for more information on conference content and registration.

Made in Montana

Shop Local

We encourage you to support your local businesses when possible. The Made in Montana online directory is a great place to find Made in Montana items and support local businesses. 

Eat Local

Now more than ever, the "eat local" movement is gaining interest. People want to know where their food is coming from. Our Taste our Place program aims to promote and increase the use of locally sourced ingredients at Montana restaurants, bars and other establishments serving food and beverages. Check out this list of Taste our Place members and savor the Montana flavor when dining out.   

Coaster Cycles

MIM Members in the News

Coaster Cycle Pedicabs And The Future Of Last-Mile Delivery—Ben Morris discovered the utility of three-wheeled cargo trikes, or pedicabs, during a stint in San Diego. After finishing his business degree at Northeastern University in 2005, he secured a small loan, bought five pedicabs, and launched Coaster Cycles. Soon, Ben had expanded beyond Boston to other cities, and he'd begun to incorporate outdoor advertising into his bike fleet.

Since 2012, Coaster Cycles has manufactured its own models of eco-friendly, three-wheeled electric bikes. Companies like Amazon, Fed Ex, UPS and Starbucks use them as coffee carts, warehouse and delivery vehicles, mobile concession stands, and more. Dozens of e-bike models are fabricated at a former lumber and plywood mill site in Bonner, Montana. Read more or listen to the podcast from MTPR here

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.


Unforgettable Road Trips Micro Campaign

MOTBD has recently launched a micro-campaign to push road trips and our latest Guidebook. According to Destination Analysts’ research, Americans are ready to travel now. Future travel planning and/or booking will increase as the COVID-19 vaccine continues to become more widely available.

For the month of April through Paid Social Media, Native Advertising and Search Engine Marketing we will be running a campaign highlighting road trips and driving potential visitors to and/or to request the guidebook.

The program will target the Educated Traveler and Affluent Family Audiences in our Drive Market States as well as actively interested consumers. Further plans for the warm season will be announced as they become available.

Mobile Native
Affluent Family

International Marketing

Registration Now Open for 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.

To register, click here.  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 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 here

Heritage/Cultural News

Victor B

Bjornborg Recognized for Montana Dinosaur Trail Contribution

The idea for a Montana Dinosaur Trail uniting the museums and promoting tourism in eastern Montana came from a meeting of the Missouri River Country board of directors at the Dinosaur Field Station in Malta, Montana.

The trail was officially launched in May 2005 via the efforts of the tourism groups of: Custer Country, Missouri River Country, Russell Country and Yellowstone Country; two state agencies: Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Travel Montana; and two federal agencies: the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Land Management. The first annual report “What Happened In The First Year Along The Trail” reported more than 196,000 visitors its first year. Today, the trail spans 14 museums across Montana with over 400,000 visitors each year.

Victor Bjornborg was critical to the trail’s creation and funding. He continued to grow the project turning the Dino Trail into one of Montana’s most developed destination tourism products. After leaving MOTBD, Victor became the highly dedicated and unpaid volunteer to continue to coordinate annual meetings, running the passport program, coordinating production and distribution of the trail maps, and partner communications. At the recent annual meeting of the Montana Dinosaur Trail, Victor was recognized for his dedication and diligence with a unique cast replica of a Maiasaura tail vertebrae and faux rock cradle created by the experts from the Museum of the Rockies.

Digging the Life of a Paleontologist: 5 Trips Where You Can Explore Dinosaurs

Now that dinosaurs have been extinct for about 65 million years, it is finally safe for amateur paleontologists to assist the professionals in unearthing the bones of these sometimes flesh-eating creatures.

If seeing the new Dinoroarus exhibit (opening April 17) at the St. Louis Zoo or the new Jurassic Quest drive-thru experience at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre (April 9-25) has inspired you or your kids, there are many opportunities for further exploration. Several organizations allow children and adults to participate alongside paleontologists uncovering the ancient fossils. Adventures last from half-day outings to weeklong digs, with on-site instructions on how to excavate “bone beds” included.

Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in Bynum is featured in this article from the St. Louis Post Dispatch as a place to go for a paleoadventure. Since its establishment in 1995, the Montana Dinosaur Center has drawn more than 5,000 yearly visitors to remote north central Montana. Most come to tour the displays, which include the first baby dinosaur bones collected in North America. 

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

Bitterroot ValleyFuture Looks Bright: Bitterroot Venues Preparing for Busy Summer—There was a point early on last summer that Daly Mansion’s executive director, Darlene Gould, worried about the potential of the historic building being closed forever. When the pandemic shut everything down, nearly all the sources of funding needed to keep the mansion’s bills paid suddenly disappeared.

Now, looking forward to the upcoming summer, Gould is feeling a sense of relief. Gould and others are already planning for the return of the popular Celtic Festival and Daly Days. Both events bring hundreds of people to the beautifully groomed shade-covered mansion grounds. And weddings are back too. At this point, Gould said there are 11 or 12 booked for this summer. That’s the most that she’s seen in the 23 years that she’s been associated with the historic mansion. People are now calling to reserve the site two years in advance. 

Gould’s not alone in seeing hopeful signs that this summer will be a lot more normal than last. Historic St. Mary’s Mission executive director, Colleen Meyer, said they’ve booked a few school tours this spring and have been taking phone calls from out-of-state residents asking about their summer hours. Read more from the Ravalli Republic here

Great FallsGreat Falls City Commissioners Move to Adopt City Wayfinding Plan—City Commissioners moved to adopt the City of Great Falls Montana Wayfinding Plan during the city commission meeting last week.

The Wayfinding Plan would implement city-wide signage, geared toward vehicles and pedestrians alike, that will “connect residents and visitors with downtown Great Falls and the area’s cultural, natural and recreational amenities,” per the project background.

The plan aims to create and install 58 motorist signs, 20 pedestrian signs, and up to 10 kiosks in order to inform and direct the public to places of interest within Great Falls, per the adopted Resolution 10393.

“Many who would otherwise simply travel through Great Falls, for those who are not familiar with the area, will learn about the services, destinations and points of interest that are available,” Director of Planning and Development Craig Raymond said. Read more from the Great Falls Tribune here

Southwest MontanaFishing Guides Expecting Big Summer as Travel Increases to Montana—The long pandemic is giving people cabin fever and those in Montana’s fly fishing and guiding business expect to benefit from it this summer.

“It’s going to be a strong summer. Hopefully we have enough water, that’s always the hope, and I know we’ll all work together and there’s no doubt we’re going to be all busy,” said Craig Jones, owner of Great Divide Outfitters. Web traffic analysts report increased searches for flights to recreation destinations like Montana. Read more from KTVH here

Eastern MontanaCape Air Getting New Fleet of Commuter Planes for Montana—Cape Air, which services seven flights from Billings to rural Eastern Montana, is adding a new model of commuter airplane to replace the airline's aging fleet of Cessnas. 

The new Tecnam P2012 Traveller is a short-haul airplane meant for the type of quick commuter flights Cape Air offers. The Essential Air Service routes are designed to connect rural communities to larger hubs and are heavily subsidized by the federal government. Read more from the Montana Standard here

WhitefishA Banner Year on Big Mountain—As Whitefish Mountain Resort prepares to close the books on its first full winter season since 2019, it has already shattered seasonal visitation records by at least 20%, reporting a banner year despite operating within the constraints of a global pandemic and with considerably less snowfall than in winters past.

The ski area on Big Mountain recorded its previous busiest ski season during the winter of 2018/19 with approximately 384,800 total skier and snowboarder visits, surpassing its prior best set in 2017/18 by nearly 3,000 and marking the third consecutive season of record-setting growth. The 2019/20 season, of course, was cut short by a full month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the resort was on track at the time to chart yet another banner year.

In the final days leading up to this ski season’s closing day on April 11, Whitefish Mountain Resort management says the ski area has again smashed previous records, tallying more than 450,000 skiers and riders since opening day last Dec. 10. Winter sports enthusiasts arrived in droves as total snow accumulations topped 227 inches at the summit, considerably less than the resort’s second-best snow year recorded in 2017/18, when 410 inches fell at the summit stake, and well below the all-time record 2007/08 ski season, which heaped 426 inches on the Big Mountain. Read more from the Flathead Beacon here

YellowstoneYellowstone's North Entrance Being Rebuilt to Accommodate More Traffic—Work that began last fall to upgrade the North Entrance station and road to Yellowstone National Park at Gardiner will continue through this summer and is projected to be completed by fall.

Until then, visitors and Gardiner business owners and residents may see some congestion on high traffic days in a year that park Superintendent Cam Sholly has predicted could be one of the busiest on record for Yellowstone.

"A busy summer could lead to backups regardless of the construction," said Terese Petcoff, executive director of the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce. "The park is pretty good about getting visitors through the gates fast." Read more from the Helena IR here

COVID-19 Research

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of April 12 from Destination Analysts

Many Americans are still in pandemic mode when it comes to booking travel, expecting shorter booking windows, often less than 4 weeks out. This week we can celebrate that the appeal of attending in-person meetings has improved, although the majority of business travelers still needs at least a few more months before they are ready to be back.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • Americans have been exhibiting a lessening optimism over the last month, after reaching a pandemic peak the week of March 14th.

  • Nevertheless, fear about travel has continued on a course of steady decline. Of the travel and leisure activities we track, only a handful remain perceived as unsafe by a majority of American travelers. In fact, the average perception of these activities as unsafe is down 20 percentage points from January 1st—a pandemic record low (37.9%).

  • More than two-thirds have a “ready-to-travel” state-of-mind and this readiness has resulted in a lot of travel plans. Over 86% of American travelers currently have at least tentative leisure travel plans and 72.8% expect to travel for leisure within the next three months alone.

  • In terms of what is motivating Americans to travel right now, while relaxing, getting away from their daily life and spending time with family remain important, about half are highly seeking escaping boredom, having new experiences and visiting new places they have never been. One-third are out to party while a quarter are even traveling specifically to meet new people.

  • As Americans look out on their travel in the months ahead, many iconic tourism spots—Florida, New York, Las Vegas, Hawaii, California—top their lists of the domestic destinations they most want to visit, including popular cities, from Chicago to New Orleans.

  • In terms of Americans’ timing on booking travel, the pandemic’s impact can still be seen. In total, 45.7% say they will make reservations closer to their travel date than they would in a normal year. Over 40% of travelers who will be making hotel, car rental, attraction and event bookings say they will be doing so less than 4 weeks out. Even 28.5% of upcoming air travelers say they will purchase their flights less than a month before travel.

  • Looking at the types of travel Americans have planned for the next quarter, leisure travel is indeed leading the recovery with 52.4% planning a vacation or getaway and 36.8% traveling to visit friends or relatives. Business travel is further back in recovery. Right now, 13.6% of American travelers say they will be taking a business trip in the next 3 months and 11.4% say they have a convention/group meeting trip.

  • This week we can celebrate that the appeal of attending in-person meetings has improved. Over 54% of business travelers say they would be happy if their employer asked them to attend an in-person conference, convention or group meeting in the next six months. This is nearly double what was recorded last August.

  • Still, a meetings industry rebound may be further into the future. Two-thirds of business travelers feel it won’t be until this summer or later that they will be comfortable attending in-person meetings. The majority (56.4%) of business travelers still would prefer a virtual meeting to an in-person one if it were happening this month. Only 20 percent say they would prefer an in-person event right now.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here

Montana Aware

Montana Aware Badge

Montana Aware Toolkit & Resources

Toolkit components with Explore Responsibly messaging are now available to download. These messages focus on a variety of ways to promote responsible travel, from planning ahead to protecting the outdoors.

Tourism partners and businesses can access the downloadable toolkit and other information at MARKETMT.COM/ISO/Montana-Aware-Toolkit

Funding Resources

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


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

International Wildlife Film FestivalApril 17May 15, 2021The International Wildlife Film Festival is expanding its habitat this year, with movies streaming online and at outdoor screens around town for a full month.

The 44th annual festival will present 65 films from around the world that cover animals near (grizzly bears in Yellowstone) to far (Australian wildlife in the aftermath of the fires) and subjects such as viral spread from animals to humans, or the sustainability programs we aren’t taking full advantage of. For more information about this year's event, visit

Visit Southeast Montana Tourism Marketing Workshop SeriesVisit Southeast Montana is offering FREE tourism marketing workshops to you, our tourism partners! This year, we'll be covering a wide range of topics from content to social media and more. 

Each of the workshops will run from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Thursdays via Zoom. Click on any of the sessions below to register.

  • April 22: Social Media 201—Come in with basic knowledge of social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and we'll provide a deeper dive into planning out a strategy for your business, particularly using content managers or studio creator. Learn how social media can be one of your biggest assets even with a small budget. 
  • April 29: How Do We Market the Visit Southeast Montana Region—Tune in for a peek of the current Out Here marketing and advertising campaign - this is a campaign that you wouldn't normally see as it is targeted outside of the region. We'll also allow time for Q&A of any sort, along with suggestions for future sessions. 

Questions? Contact Megan Hoffman at

National Park Week – April 17-25, 2021An annual weeklong celebration of America’s national parks, National Park Week encourages the public to explore the vast network of our national parks, sacred sites, and historical landmarks, as well as our shared heritage contained within them.

To kick off National Park Week, every national park will have a free admission day tomorrow, Saturday, April 17. The public is asked to recreate responsibly when visiting parks, including following rules requiring masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained, or to explore parks virtually through a variety of engaging online activities. Visit or for more virtual programming.

The 2021 National Park Week theme days are:

  • Saturday, April 17: Free Admission and ParkRx Day
  • Sunday, April 18: VIP (Volunteers in Parks) Sunday
  • Monday, April 19: Military Monday
  • Tuesday, April 20: Transformation Tuesday
  • Wednesday, April 21: Wayback Wednesday
  • Thursday, April 22: Earth Day
  • Friday, April 23: Friendship Friday
  • Saturday, April 24: Junior Ranger Day
  • Sunday, April 25: BARK Ranger Day

For more information or to read the full press release, click here

National Travel & Tourism Week – May 2-8, 2021National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) is an annual tradition for the U.S. travel community. It’s a time when travel and tourism professionals across the country unite to celebrate the value travel holds for our economy, businesses and personal well-being.

This year, NTTW will recognize the POWER OF TRAVEL and the industry’s role in bringing back our vibrant communities, restoring the U.S. economy, rebuilding our workforce and reconnecting America.

Use these resources with the media, elected officials and the public to share how the Power of Travel will help drive America's recovery.

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: