Friday Flash 4/30/21

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Hell Creek State Park

Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Save the Dates...

  • May 4, 2021—Region/CVB FY22 Marketing Plans due to MOTBD in WebGrants
  • June 14-15, 2021—TAC Meeting 
  • 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


Check out the Updated MARKETMT.COM!

We’re thrilled to announce that the Department of Commerce has launched an updated MARKETMT.COM website under a new web system. Thank you to all who worked hard to make this change!

Please take a moment to go through the new MARKETMT.COM site and look for any bookmarks or broken links to any of the pages on the site, and update your own sites for any broken links.

And, if you haven’t already, take a look at the new SBDC.MT.GOV, CEIC.MT.GOV, MADEINMONTANAUSA.COM, REEDERSALLEY.COM and VIRGINIACITYMT.COM.

Tourism Grant Program

Commerce Department Awards Tourism Grants to 26 Communities Across Montana

Communities will Share $750,000 to Strengthen Tourism and Recreation Assets
The Montana Department of Commerce announced Wednesday $750,000 in Tourism Grant award funding to strengthen local economies in 26 communities by enhancing tourism and recreation assets. The awards will serve 35 tourism and recreation projects across Montana, including unincorporated small towns, rural communities and areas of known attractions to non-resident visitors.

Montana boasts world-class tourism and recreation destinations in every corner of our state,” Commerce Director Scott Osterman said. “These funds will facilitate development of tourism and recreation assets, supporting good-paying jobs in communities across Montana.”

The Tourism Grant Program at the Montana Department of Commerce awards funding annually to projects that strengthen Montana’s economy through the development and enhancement of the state’s tourism and recreation industry. Eligible entities based in Montana that may apply for a tourism grant include city and county entities, non-profit organizations and tribal entities. To read the full press release and see the list of awarded projects, click here

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.   

MIM Members in the News

Sourdough Goodness at Helena’s Sunflower Bakery—It takes determination, passion, and confidence to open a bakery during a pandemic. That’s precisely what Kate and Ian McLean did in December of 2020 when they opened the Sunflower Bakery on the west end of Euclid Avenue in Helena. “We purposely chose this location as there wasn’t a bakery serving folks that live on this side of town,” explains Ian. “We think our bread is worth the trek out to our place.”

The McLean’s journey that has led to their skill in making exceptional sourdough bread has been circuitous. Kate is from Clancy and Ian from Great Falls. They met at the University of Montana, where Kate majored in art and Ian in music performance. During her college years, Kate dabbled in baking. This couple, married in 2013, spread their wings and ended up in western Maryland, where they worked on organic farms, farm-to-table eateries, and a creamery. “We were farm hopping,” Kate says with a smile. It was in Maryland where they would learn about fermentation and the science of sourdough. “Now, I could never go back to any other way of baking,” Kate declares. Read more from the Montana Standard 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.


National Travel & Tourism Week

National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) is right around the corner! This year, NTTW has chosen the theme of, Power of Travel, and will recognize the industry's role in bringing back vibrance to the communities, restoring the U.S. economy, rebuilding the workforce and reconnecting America. Click here for NTTW's full toolkit.

Visit Montana will participate in NTTW's celebration this year by focusing on different sectors of the tourism industry and highlighting them on Visit Montana's different social channels. We wanted to share with you our schedule of topics in case you would be interested in following a similar schedule on your channels.

Below is a look at the schedule for the week:

  • Sunday, May 2: Introduce NTTW
    • Start the week by introducing NTTW and facts about the tourism and travel industry. Give a glimpse into what will be shared throughout the week. Share tourism facts and offer insight into the importance of travel and tourism for Montana.
  • Monday, May 3: Accommodations
    • Montana offers up some of the best lodging experiences in the West. Lodging and accommodations are diverse in the state, ranging from five-star luxury guest ranches, cozy cabins, lodges, charming bed-and-breakfasts, hotels and more, there is something for everyone.
  • Tuesday, May 4: National Parks
    • Highlight that Montana is anchored by two National Parks. Focusing on the spaces between the places.
  • Wednesday, May 5: Dining, Spirits + Brews
    • Visit Montana will feature the exquisite dining, vast brewery options and delicious spirits that capture the flavors of Montana. The Taste Our Place program will also be showcased throughout the social channels.
  • Thursday, May 6: Outdoor Recreation
    • Now more than ever, there is a desire for recreating outdoors. This day will highlight our state parks, rivers, hiking, biking and more. While showing the endless options for outdoor recreation, we will also promote the importance of recreating responsibly.
  • Friday, May 7: Museums + Attractions
    • Full of history and epic experiences, Montana's museums and historic sites offer a look into Montana's past. Our social channels will highlight information on the Montana Dino Trail.
  • Saturday, May 8: Made in Montana
    • Feature local vendors and businesses that highlight Montana's beauty and uniqueness in the products that they create. This will also promote awareness for the Grown in Montana and Native American Made in Montana programs.

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.


Montana Regains Second Congressional Seat With 2020 Census

Montana will regain its second congressional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the 2020 Census state population count released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The count reveals that Montana’s population grew from 989,415 people in 2010 to 1,085,407 people in 2020 – an increase of 95,992 residents over 2010, or nearly 10 percent.

“Thanks to the efforts of Montanans across the state, the 2020 Census shows what we’ve known to be true – Montana is a great place to live, work, and raise a family,” Gov. Greg Gianforte said.

“This is a great day for Montana. With a second congressional seat, Montanans will have another voice in Congress to work on their behalf,” Gov. Gianforte continued. “It’s critical we avoid the traps of partisanship and gerrymandering as our new district lines are drawn. Our new districts should be compact, keep our communities together, and make common sense.”

Montana had two congressional districts until 1993, when reapportionment based on the 1990 population count resulted in Montana losing its second seat.

The U.S. Census Bureau is expected to release sub-state level data later this year. That information will be used by the independent Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission to determine the boundaries for Montana’s two congressional districts and to redraw local legislative districts.

The federal government conducts the constitutionally mandated population count of all residents in the United States every 10 years. States help promote the importance of responding to the count.

“As the lead agency for the state’s census efforts, the Department of Commerce worked with partners across Montana to encourage Montanans to self-respond to the 2020 Census,” said Scott Osterman, director of the Montana Department of Commerce. “The updated state population count is the result of months of all-hands-on-deck statewide work to let Montanans know about the importance of being counted.” Read the full press release here

Outdoor Recreation

Going-to-the-Sun Road Ticketed Entry

Glacier National Park is instituting an online reservation system (ticketed entry) for the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor between the park’s West and St. Mary Entrances from May 28 to September 6, 2021. Reservations for tickets are now available at

Entering the Going-to-the-Sun Road at either West Glacier or St. Mary, or via the Camas Road, will require two things...a Park Pass plus a $2.00 Entry Reservation Ticket or a reservation for a service along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. For more information, click here.

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

ButteButte's Tourism District Headed Toward 10-year Extension—The Tourism Business Improvement District in Butte-Silver Bow has spent $1.6 million on festivals, tournaments, marketing and other efforts to bring visitors to town over the past decade, and there’s ample support to extend it another 10 years.

Under Montana law, hoteliers can extend the district themselves if owners of more than 60% of the area of hotel property in the district, called a “footprint,” agree to it and the local government signs off.

TBID Director Maria Pochervina told commissioners Wednesday night that hotels making up at least 88% of the footprint want to keep the district alive another 10 years. Action is needed this year or the district sunsets. Read more from the Montana Standard here

MissoulaBusiness Buzz: New International Food Market; Downtown History Tours Resume—A new shop where customers can find everything from Filipino-style barbecue spices to snacks and specialties from around the world is open in Missoula. Samar International Food Market held a grand opening on Saturday, April 23, near Southgate Mall. It's located in Paxson Plaza next to Big Dipper Ice Cream and The Dram Shop Central.

The Downtown Missoula Partnership is bringing back its tours of downtown for history buffs. "As the Downtown environment changes with new growth and development, it is critical to highlight and remember Missoula’s heritage," said Bram Moore, operations coordinator for the Partnership. "With a focus on providing safe, educational, and entertaining heritage opportunities in Downtown Missoula, Unseen Missoula Historical Guided Walking Tours are ready to roll for a fourth consecutive season." There are a variety of tour options including Basements & Back Alleys, Hotels & Hooligans and Pedal Through the Past. Read more from the Missoulian here

PhilipsburgPhilipsburg's Sweet Palace Finds Formula for Success—Although it's been open less than 25 years, it's hard to imagine Philipsburg without the Sweet Palace. During the summer, you won't find many busier spots in western Montana.

The Sweet Palace has been an integral part of the small town of Philipsburg, Montana for 23 years and in that relatively short amount of time, this store has built quite the reputation as the go-to place for the best candy around. It's a reputation that has brought people in from all parts of the country and around the world.

Co-owner Shirley Beck noted just one example of many from a visiting Australian family. “They met someone in the Outback of Australia telling them that when they come to the United States, if they’re visiting the parks meaning Yellowstone and Glacier, you’re going to be in Montana and you must go to the Sweet Palace.” Read more from KTVH here

West YellowstoneNew United Express Service Takes Off in West Yellowstone—The community of West Yellowstone, MT is pleased to announce the arrival of new United Express flights, operated by SkyWest Airlines, in June. The new flights from Yellowstone Airport (WYS) to Denver International Airport (DEN) will be available from June 3 to Sept. 29, 2021. 

“For the first time in over four decades WYS is pleased to offer two air carrier service providers with two different city pairings!” said Jeff Kadlec, Airport Manager – Yellowstone Airport. “SkyWest continues to be heavily invested in Yellowstone Airport and the community will benefit tremendously from the newly added Denver service with United.”

The United Express flights are in addition to daily Delta flights from West Yellowstone to Salt Lake City, also operated by SkyWest. SkyWest Airlines is proud to have provided quality WYS service since 1986.

“We are excited about this new service and to offer travelers even more options to experience America’s first national park,” said Greg Atkin, SkyWest’s managing director of Market Development. “Passengers can also fly with confidence thanks to the layered approach to safety, which includes enhanced cleaning, mandatory face coverings and customer self-assessments with check-in.”

The flights from Denver to West Yellowstone are timed to provide maximum connection opportunities and will provide travelers seamless access to United’s global network. From Denver, United operates hundreds of daily flights to nearly 200 destinations around the world.
Customers may book flights immediately at or by calling United Airlines reservations at 800.UNITED.1 (800.846.8331). Remember, the best fares are always available at

COVID-19 Research

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of April 26 from Destination Analysts

Even more Americans than last month—over 70%—are now saying “YES!” to summer vacation. From fewer trips to less concern about crowds, the pandemic both wanes and lingers in travelers’ psyches and consequent trip decisions.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • Americans’ anxiety about contracting the virus and the pandemic’s financial impact are the lowest they have been.

  • Americans’ perceptions of travel activities as unsafe dropped again this week to another coronavirus-era low—now at just 35.1%, down from 57.8% in January and 69.4% one year ago. Over 43% say they would not feel guilty traveling right now—another pandemic record.

  • Seven-in-ten Americans are in a ready-to-travel state of mind and two-thirds say they are highly open to travel inspiration. In the last week, over 75% have actively dreamt and/or planned travel, including the nearly 18% who made a booking or reservation for an upcoming trip.

  • American travel is indeed definitively on the rise. As of this week, nearly 88% have at least tentative leisure trip plans right now and over 71% will be taking at least one trip within the next 3 months. In fact, the typical American traveler is likely to take nearly 2 leisure trips by the time August rolls around.

  • Now 71.6% of American travelers say they will take a Summer vacation or getaway, up nearly 10 percentage points from last month and up nearly 36 percentage points from 2020. Across all American travelers, the average number of leisure trips being taken this Summer is 1.7, with July the peak month.

  • Over 70% of Summer travelers plan to head out of state (and one-in-ten will travel abroad) so, while car is still the predominant transportation method, 34.2% will be getting on an airplane. Beaches remain the top destination and planned activity, although 27.3% say they will be visiting cities. Restaurants and retail stores look to be attracting tourists this summer, as well.

  • Interestingly, Americans are split in their expectations for travel prices this season. While 36.3% agree prices will be low this Summer, 30.6% disagree. Nevertheless, two-thirds of Summer travelers will actively look for discounts and 58.8% say such deals are important to their travel planning.

  • Still, the pandemic lingers in Americans’ mindset. While 43.6% say the number of summer trips they are taking this year is what they would do normally—and over a quarter say it’s even more—nearly one-third of American travelers say their summer trip volume is less than a typical non/pre-pandemic year for them. When asked for reasons as to why they are not planning more travel this summer, the top 2 cited were directly pandemic-related.

  • And yet, the pandemic is also in retreat in Americans’ psyche. When asked the important attributes in destinations they will choose to visit this year, the percent saying “uncrowded” has fallen 20 percentage points since June 2020 (now at 33.5%). Also in decline is the percent saying they want a place that isn’t overly commercialized.

  • When asked what they most want out of travel this year, Americans are largely looking to escape and relax, experience beautiful places, do new things and visit places they have been dreaming of.

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/Programs/Industry-Services-and-Outreach/Montana-Aware-Toolkit.

Other News

“Irrational Exuberance”? The Current State of Affairs for Global Concessionaires

There may very well be few businesses in the travel and tourism industry that were left unscathed in the global pandemic’s path. Airport concessionaires are certainly not among them. Often taken for granted, airport concessionaires can be the highlight of extensive wait times and long-haul travel, serving everything from light refreshments and delicious dinners, to reading materials, gifts or anything else travelers’ hearts might desire. And over the past year, airport restaurants and retailers have been fighting a fierce battle for survival.

Following an industry update webinar on April 13th, David Reichbach, Destination Analysts’ Senior Director of Analytics and Data Security, led a panel discussion with global leaders in travel restaurants and retail stores. 

Key Takeaways

  • The current state of the world for global concessionaires is “irrational exuberance.”
  • Like many businesses, tourism-reliant restaurants and retailers are struggling with the inability to plan.
  • Health and safety protocols are here to stay.
  • Technology has been changing, and will continue to change, consumer purchasing behaviors.
  • Destination Marketing Organizations can best support airport concessionaires by leading the conversation around travel.

Read more or watch the webinar from Destination Analysts blog here

Regional Population Loss ‘Metastasizes’ in the Last Decade

The overwhelming population growth story of the past 50 years has been the increasing concentration of people in large central cities and their suburbs. At the same time, growth has slowed in rural America and in smaller cities.

For many parts of the country, this has meant long-term declines in population. These population losses have sped up since 2010, according to Census estimates during the decade. In fact, more than half of all U.S. counties have lost population in the last decade. There is no other 10-year stretch in the last 50 years where half the counties lost population. Read more from the Daily Yonder here.

Other Dates/Events to Note

May 19 & 20, 2021 (9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. both days)—Glacier Country Tourism Summit: Reach New Heights in Marketing Your Business—Glacier Country Tourism’s annual summit is virtual and free for ANYONE to attend. Attend the sessions of your choice or make time for the entire summit. Our tourism and marketing experts can help you develop tourism product, train your workforce, prepare for the upcoming tourism season, and market your business or organization to travelers. Learn more and register now by clicking here

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: