Friday Flash 5/7/21

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White Cliffs

Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Save the Dates...

  • 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

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 last week $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.   

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

Hollywood Movie 'Supercell' Storming Into Southern Montana

A new movie is about to start shooting in and around the Billings area. It’s called "Supercell" and it’s all about a son following in his father’s footsteps as a storm chaser.

The last major motion picture to film in Billings was the critically acclaimed movie "Nebraska" back in 2012. Other great movies have called southern Montana home including Robert Redford’s "A River Runs Through It" and Ron Howard’s "Far and Away". And in every Montana film, the landscape seems to play a crucial role.

That’s one reason Producer Nathan Klingher says that the new movie "Supercell" choose to film here. “The production value you get shooting in Montana, on location is unrivaled,” says Klingher. “You point the camera and shoot, and you're getting just value out of the vistas that you're seeing.”

Montana Film Commissioner Allison Whitmer explained that because of a tax incentive, a lot of filmmakers are coming to shoot in Montana and are generating a lot of money into the local economy. “During 2019, and most of 2020, we've calculated with our research report that we've had about a $47-$48 million impact in the state, and we are certainly hoping to continue that,” says Whitmer. “We've been able to put filmmakers in every corner of Montana, and we'd like to see that maintain. They come with cash in hand, and they hire people, and they stay in hotels, and they rent cars and they distribute their money into all levels of your local economy... they spread it through all the community and then you get to see the final product in the theaters later.” Read more from KTVQ 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.

To register, click here.  If you have questions, please contact Kim Birrell.

Outdoor Recreation

FWP Seeks Citizen Advisory Members for Recreational Grant Programs

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking applicants for three citizen advisory boards: State Trails Advisory Committee, Snowmobile Advisory Committee and the Off-Highway Advisory Committee.

FWP advisory boards are tasked with advising FWP on the allocation of grant funds annually for FWP-managed recreation grant programs. Member involvement includes the review of grant applications, scoring and providing recommendations to the department for the allocation of available funding. The citizen committees typically meet twice annually.

The grant programs provide both state and federal funding for a diverse variety of recreational grants annually. Projects occur statewide and include motorized and non-motorized, summer and winter, urban and backcountry.

To apply
Applicants must send a letter of interest for the specific advisory committee opening. Letters of interest are required to include:

  • Name, address, telephone number and email address.
  • The advisory committee that you are interested in serving on.
  • A description of the types of trail-related activities you participate in, keeping in mind that we’re seeking individuals with broad recreational backgrounds and interests, representation from all parts of Montana, and similar factors.
  • The names of any recreational organizations to which you belong.
  • Any other experience, perspectives, interests or similar factors you may wish offer that will benefit decisions concerning the disbursement of these recreational grant funds annually.

Interested citizens should have a strong interest in diversified recreation throughout Montana and the improvements possible via these grant opportunities.

For more information on each committee or to apply, read the full press release here. The deadline to submit letters of interest is Friday, June 4, 2021.

Flathead National Forest Considers Flood of Requests for Recreation Permits

An uptick in applications for special-use permits includes proposals for guided e-bike tours, shuttles, outfitter services, races, retreats and events

As if residents of Northwest Montana need further evidence that outdoor recreation is on the rise in the region, the Flathead National Forest is processing a flood of requests for events and outfitting services this summer, with proposals ranging from guided e-bike and ATV tours spanning 200 “service days” in the Whitefish Range to single-day foot races, bicycle rides, wellness retreats and shuttle services.

The deluge of proposals comes as both state and federal public land managers grapple with an uptick in outdoor recreation uses and predict record-breaking visitation this summer. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven the public outdoors in unprecedented numbers, and regions like Northwest Montana, which already accommodates a robust outdoor-recreation economy, has at times been overrun.

Although issues related to congestion have been most prominent in places like Glacier National Park and the state parks girding Flathead Lake, they’ve also surfaced across the Flathead National Forest’s 2.4 million-acre footprint, which includes the Whitefish Range, the Swan Range and the Mission Mountains.

Agency officials are engaged in a constant juggling act to balance priorities like recreation, timber, fire, resource conservation and education. As outdoor recreation makes sharp gains, it’s become a prominent pillar in the U.S. Forest Service’s mission, forcing land managers to reconcile existing accommodations with the surge in demand. Meanwhile, as the suite of recreational uses becomes more diverse, agency officials are expanding the parameters of what they consider permissible activities. Read more from the Flathead Beacon here

Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund

Commerce Department Awards $730,000 in Business Development Funds to Create 99 New Jobs for Montanans

The Montana Department of Commerce today announced $730,000 in business development funds to support the creation of up to 99 jobs at growing businesses in Montana.

The funds will be awarded through the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund (BSTF) Job Creation Grant and the Primary Sector Workforce Training Grant, which are administered by the Department of Commerce. The two competitive reimbursement grant programs support long-term, sustainable business growth by encouraging the creation of good-paying jobs and training workers to fill new jobs.

“These businesses are growing, increasing economic potential in their local economies and providing new opportunities for Montanans,” Commerce Director Scott Osterman said. “Commerce is proud to partner with small businesses to create good-paying jobs across Montana.”

To read the full press release and see the list of awards, click here

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

Butte'Zoom Town:' What Does Butte's Appeal to Remote Workers Mean for City's Economy?—The Today Show recently listed Butte as a popular town that remote workers are moving to, a home away from home. With the influx of people moving to smaller towns in order to get away from city life, this could mean more people flowing in to Butte.

"Its going to bring more better paying positions to the community which again increases our population, brings younger people, people with families," said Maria Pochervina, Executive Director of the Butte Conventions and Visitors Bureau.

Butte’s population peaked during the golden age of mining with a population of over 90,000. When the mining industry left, people left with it, decimating Butte’s population in 1970 to 32,000 before jumping up to 34,000 and hovering around that number ever since. The possibility of more people moving to Butte could mean a bump in economy and tourism.

"It’s a great way for people to go ahead and get a lay of the land, so to speak, before they decide to maybe pull the trigger and either find permanent rentals or purchase some property here and locate permanently." said Pochervina.

The Today Show isn’t the first to name Butte a great Zoom town for workers to escape to. Last year, Forbes released a similar list naming Butte a choice town for remote workers. Read more from KRTV here.

WhitefishExplore Whitefish Grants Enhance Bike and Nordic Opportunities—The Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau, known as Explore Whitefish, has announced the winners of its spring grant awards program. Explore Whitefish awards funds for programs, projects or events that demonstrate the ability to strengthen the community of Whitefish and to help drive visitation during the shoulder and winter seasons.

Flathead Area Mountain Bikers and Glacier Nordic Club were the recipients of this year’s grant cycle for projects, which enhance the livability of the community, benefit both locals and visitors, and promote activities that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

The bikers’ group will use the funds to expand the Armory Park Pump Track near Hugh Rogers Dog Park. The pump track provides easily accessible recreation opportunities close to town for visitors and local residents of all ages. The expanded pump track will be accessible spring, summer and fall.

Glacier Nordic Club will replace the aged lighting system at its Nordic skiing track at Whitefish Lake Golf Course (the Glacier Nordic Center). Night lighting has been an integral component of the Nordic center, and increases accessibility for skiers by allowing after-dark use. In 2020, an estimated 3,500 skiers enjoyed the Nordic center. Read more from the Daily Inter Lake here

COVID-19 Research

Update on American Travel in the Period of Coronavirus—Week of May 3 from Destination Analysts

It was yet another record week for consumer sentiment in travel’s recovery. However, despite acknowledgement of the strong travel demand this summer, many are likely to find that travel prices don’t match their discount-oriented expectations.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • Record vaccinations: Now nearly 7-in-10 American travelers have or plan to get vaccinated from COVID-19. Just over half (51.5%) of American travelers report now being fully vaccinated—and nearly 90% of these vaccinated travelers are now comfortable with the idea of traveling, another pandemic record.

  • Strong optimism: Near-term expectations for the pandemic situation improving in the U.S. grew dramatically this week. The percent of American travelers feeing the next month would see improvements grew to 59.4%, up from 44.35% last week.

  • Record feelings of safety in the pandemic era: The trend in feeling safer about travel accelerated this week. The rating of over two dozen travel & leisure activities as “unsafe” fell to a record-low 30.4%. Confidence in travel’s safety hit a pandemic-record 45.8%.

  • Record support for local tourism in the pandemic era: Travelers are also feeling safer in their own communities, with 65.6% saying they’re comfortable going out in their home communities, another pandemic record. When asked how they would feel seeing a travel advertisement for their home community, 54.6% said they would be happy or very happy. A record-high 26.9% say they “disagree” that they don’t want tourists coming to town, and those agreeing with this sentiment dropped to a low of 39.8%.

  • Enthusiasm for travel at 1-Year High: Travel readiness hit a pandemic-record 77.0% this week. Now 73.5% of American travelers say they have high levels of excitement about travel this year, up from 65.0% last week. Meanwhile, rejection of travel guilt hit a record-high 47.6%.

  • More Boomers join in on the travel excitement: Despite being among the first groups to be vaccinated, for the last few months, our research had shown a majority of Boomers being more modest in their sentiments around travel. But this week, Boomers had the greatest growth in their travel marketability index score, relative to any other segment we track.

  • Record travel dreaming, planning and booking this year: In the last week, a record 80.2% of American travelers dreamt or planned travel, including 21.6% who made reservations or bookings—another record. Among the bookers, 52.1% reserved a hotel room and 43.1% bought airfare. Now an incredible 76.5% expect to travel in the next 3 months, and anticipated travel spending in this time frame reached a record $1,768.

  • The outlook for summer travel grew even stronger: About 87% of American travelers expect to be taking trips this summer, be it a vacation, visiting friends or relatives, business trip or meeting at a conference.

  • Travelers expect this summer travel season to be a busy one: With the exception of small towns/villages and rural destinations, more than half of traveling consumers expect destinations to be (very) busy or crowded this summer. In fact, nearly 75% expect beach/resorts destinations to be crowded. A majority of Americans also expect it to be busy at a number of venues and places, from museums to concerts to sporting events. Interestingly, after airports and flights, Americans expect the most crowding at bars and nightclubs in Summer 2021.

  • Consumer price expectations haven’t caught up to demand expectations: Despite anticipating that it will be busy pretty much everywhere this summer, a notable proportion of travelers are expecting travel costs to be moderate. About half (49.6%) agree that travel companies will keep prices “reasonable” this summer, and 40.4% even feel it will be a “buyer’s market” this summer. Despite over two-thirds of travelers expecting it to be busy for air travel and in hotels, over 40% expect prices for airfare and lodging to be lower than normal. And discounts and deals as a travel motivator hit a pandemic-record 55.5%.

  • Cities keep on the recovery trajectory: Now 41.2% of those traveling for leisure in the next 3 months say they will be visiting cities, up from 35.9% last week.

  • The top 3 most common desires for travel this year (notably different from 2020): Chill-out/Decompress, Experience Beautiful Places, Do New things/Visit New Places.

  • Wanting more inspiration and more from influencers: This week, American travelers also report being more open to travel inspiration, with 71.2% saying they were excited to learn about new destinations and travel experiences (up from 62.7% last week). Nearly a quarter of all travelers—and well over a third of Millennial and younger travelers—report using digital influencers as part of their travel process, primarily those who are honest, provide new ideas and specialize. The most common trip decisions influencer-users were motivated by these personalities to make were for destinations to visit, restaurants and hotels.

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.

Other News

Local Production Company Launches MT Movie Studio

With a Cause Productions, a Missoula based production company, announced via press release that it has launched Treasure State Studios, in partnership with Annie Graham.

Treasure State Studios’ mission is to create national-quality content to shine a light on Montana's talent, filmmaking resources and locations. This new film production location under the big sky is Montana owned and will create the space to tell Montana stories.

This Montana movie studio will offer the space to produce feature length films, 30 second spots and everything in between.

The studio, located at 5646 West Harrier Drive in Missoula was recently purchased and renovated to create a custom, state-of-the-art, local facility that is available for rent by production companies. This allows them to bring their crew in or hire With A Cause Productions to produce content. Read more from KULR8 here

The Hotel Industry’s Road to Recovery

It is no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has crushed the hospitality industry. Hotels especially suffered a devastating blow, with many of them struggling for survival. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, hotels were one of the first industries affected by the pandemic after travel was forced to a halt in early 2020, and it will be one of the last to recover. However, American consumers are resilient and increasingly ready to travel.

Following an industry update webinar on April 20th, Destination Analysts’ Founder & Managing Director, Dave Bratton, led an enlightening discussion with the panel of accomplished hotel executives, who offered a glimpse into their unique world. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • The demand for leisure travel is back and is expected to last throughout the summer.
  • While there are signs that group business is returning, the demand is gradual and booking windows are shorter.
  • Staffing is clearly a major challenge for hoteliers, however they also face challenges around setting guest expectations.
  • In addition to communicating that travel can be done safely, Destination Marketing Organizations can support hotels by celebrating the hospitality industry.

Read more or watch the webinar from the Destination Analysts blog 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 (Virtual)—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:

June 30-July 1, 2021Western Governors' Association (WGA) Annual Meeting (Virtual)—The event hosted by WGA Chair, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, will highlight the Governors discussing their ongoing work to manage the impact of COVID-19 and insightful conversations about the most significant issues facing the region. The two-day meeting will feature the Governors in roundtables with special guests on topics such as emergency response, public lands challenges, shared stewardship, infrastructure and workforce. For more information or to register, click here