Friday Flash 6/25/21

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Reminders/Updates for our Tourism Partners

Wildfire Updates

The Montana Department of Commerce will again provide relevant wildfire updates for tourism partners and the traveling public at MARKETMT.COM. The page will be updated as fire activity impacts popular destination areas.

Save the Dates...

  • July 20, 2021—Region/CVB 4th Quarter Financial Reports Due 
  • October 4-5, 2021—TAC Meeting (Location TBD)
  • 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. 
    • July 28, 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    • November 24, 2021

Recreate Responsibly

Recreate Responsibly Toolkit and Resources

The Montana Office of Tourism is committed to keeping Montana’s outdoor spaces, communities, residents, and visitors safe. Please join us communicating these guidelines for responsible recreation to visitors traveling throughout Montana.

As part of this initiative, the Montana Office of Tourism has developed a toolkit of resources to help you educate residents and visitors on safe travel best practices. To learn more or download the toolkit, click here

Tourism Grant Program

New Tourism Grant Cycle Opens August 1!

We are happy to announce that the annual application cycle of the Tourism Grant Program will open at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 1, 2021 via Submittable, an online platform. The 2022 application cycle will close at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, September 15.

In preparation for the annual application cycle, the Tourism Grant Program will host 2 webinar training workshops to provide a review of the program guidelines and timeline; updates to the FY cycle and an overview of the application. 

  • July 8 at 1:00 p.m.
  • July 22 at 2:00 p.m.

To register for one of the FY22 pre-application workshops click this link.  

For more information about the Tourism Grant Program and the annual application cycle please visit our website at MARKETMT.COM

Made in Montana

2021 Made in Montana Tradeshow 

Now Seeking Nominations for 2021 Retailer of the Year!
This award recognizes a Made in Montana retailer who makes an outstanding effort to represent the Made in Montana brand, supports Montana producers, and is committed to promoting the sale of Made in Montana goods to residents and visitors alike. 

If you know of a retailer that fits the description, this is your chance to nominate them to be honored as the 2021 Made in Montana Retailer of the Year.

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

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

Seattle's New Zero-Emissions Delivery Hub is an Experiment in Slashing E-Commerce Emissions—As companies and governments strategize to make our exploding e-commerce economy more environmentally friendly, the “last mile” of a product’s journey—that is, the very last stage, from the transportation hub to the customer, currently appears the easiest to target. That’s especially true in cities, where higher population densities and shorter distances allow for the use of electric vehicles and micro-mobility options for getting packages into consumers’ hands.

Seattle is exploring that potential, launching a testing ground for a variety of logistics strategies to try and achieve zero emissions in the last-mile portion of delivery. Congregating various partners, it’s designed a “microhub” that will be home to cargo bikes, electric vehicles and pallets, and food trucks. It’s one of the first pilots in the country of its kind to drive a shift to a “neighborhood-scale delivery model,” as the nature of retail changes. With the city’s department of transportation also on board, it will align with Seattle’s climate goals of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

That may be via electric vehicles, which are becoming a bigger part of AxleHire’s drivers’ fleet. Some deliveries may take place by foot, and a big portion will be by cargo bikes, provided by another partner, Coaster Cycles, a fleet of electric-assisted bikes. They’ll be assisted by yet another partner: General Motors’ BrightDrop, designers of an electric pallet. Christened the EP1, the pallet has innovated the old-fashioned dolly, which has seen little change in decades, and the Coaster Cycles are designed to carry them. Read more from Fast Company here. 

Grown in Montana

High Horizon Gardens

High Horizon Gardens Expanding After Community Support During COVID-19

After just a few years of operation, produce from Havre's High Horizon Gardens is now in most of Havre's restaurants, its website says - and now the owners are planning to expand the business. The High Horizon Gardens website says owners Aricka Turner and Cody Miles want to continue expanding their product line as the seasons change.

However, that's not all they have planned. They said in an interview that they are planning on opening a new location in the fall. "The inflation has been absolutely insane. That's been kind of one of our setbacks because one day you get a quote and the next day it's gone and we have a lot to develop. So we're hoping this fall that we'll push the start button and then, in the wintertime, we'll start getting stuff available for people and start the new transition," Miles said. Read more from the Havre Daily News here


Communal Dinners Celebrating Montana-Grown Lentils Return to Bozeman

Chef Claudia Galofre-Krevat’s lentil dinners returned to Bozeman this week with an eastern Mediterranean twist. A crowd of more than 80 people lined up around a table at a property on South Cottonwood Road as sandhill cranes flew overhead. Galofre-Krevat topped plates with the food, which highlighted Eastern Mediterranean flavors, and, as always, Montana-grown lentils.

It’s all part of “Lentils Without Borders” — Galofre-Krevat’s initiative aimed at bringing people together to appreciate locally grown crops. The chef this week paired Pork souvlaki with lentil enchiladas, black chickpeas and kalamata olives, a tomato-cucumber-spinach-goat cheese salad and a lentil-quinoa tabbouleh.

Galofre-Krevat has been cooking $5 communal meals in Bozeman every summer since 2016, though the monthly events went on a year-long hiatus during the pandemic. Her goal is to bring people together to appreciate locally grown pulse crops, or legumes. “I have always dreamt of having a community where we do things together — we talk, we promote people, we promote the arts, we promote musicians and farmers and nonprofits,” she said. “I decided I would feed the community.” Read more from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle here

Tribal Tourism News

Bison Range

Montana Tribal Tourism Program Partners with Smithsonian Magazine

The tribal tourism program at the Office of Indian Country Economic Development has launched two sponsored articles through Smithsonian Magazine. One features outdoor activities, and the other features a few of the best places to watch buffalo in Indian Country. Smithsonian will use native banner ads and social media promos to direct traffic to the articles.

The articles are part of a custom content partnership with Smithsonian, which also includes video content featuring the Blackfeet Tribe. The video content will be produced later this summer.

Commerce Announces Grants to Grow 14 Native American-Owned Small Businesses

Business owners and entrepreneurs will share $86,500 in Tribal Tourism Digital Business Development grants
The Montana Department of Commerce announced Thursday $86,500 in funding to support the growth of 14 Native American-owned small businesses through the Tribal Tourism Digital Business Development Grant at the Montana Department of Commerce.

“Native-owned and tourism-related businesses were hit especially hard by COVID-19,” Commerce Director Scott Osterman said. “As these businesses look ahead to a brighter future, they will be more prepared with the digital resources and tools they need to reach and serve the modern-day traveler.”

The Tribal Tourism Digital Business Development Grant is a competitive grant program to help Native American-owned businesses related to the tourism industry emerge from COVID-19 restrictions better positioned to generate revenue by establishing or strengthening digital distribution or promotion of their products and services. Eligible project categories include professional content development, website development and virtual experiences.

Each business will receive between $5,500 and $6,250 and must provide matching funds.

The following 14 entrepreneurs and small businesses owners will share $86,500 in Tribal Tourism Digital Business Development grants:

Blackfeet Tribe

  • Leaning Tree Café (Babb)
  • Sunshine Woman Creations (East Glacier)
  • DeBoo’s Ranch Adventures (Valier)

Chippewa Cree Tribe

  • Mel’s Diner dba Krusty Krab Fireworks (Box Elder)

Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes

  • Flathead Raft Company (Polson)
  • Hardup Land (Hot Springs)
  • Keepers of the Seasons (Arlee)
  • Water People Tours & Kapapa (Elmo)

Crow Tribe

  • Indian Battle Tours (Crow Agency)
  • Wellknown Buffalo Café (Garryowen)

Fort Belknap Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes

  • Bishop Guide Service (Malta)

Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes

  • Redbyrd Designs (Glasgow)

Northern Cheyenne Tribe

  • Sage & Oats Trading Post (Helena)
  • Native Country Tourism (Ashland)

The Tribal Tourism Digital Business Development grant is a limited-time pilot program; however, the Department of Commerce will open the application cycle for another program, the Indian Equity Fund Small Business Grant, on July 1, 2021.

To learn more about the Office of Indian Country Economic Development programs, visit MARKETMT.MT.GOV.

Outdoor Recreation

Manhattan Looks to Expand Trails System

Local trails organizations are building 7 miles of new trails to connect the Headwaters Trail System in Three Forks with the Manhattan Trail System in Manhattan. The effort will ultimately become part of the Great American Rail Trail system, a project that will connect the country through a network of trails spanning 3,700 miles from Washington, D.C. to Washington state.

The Manhattan Trail System is a nonprofit founded in 2019 to construct a trail between Manhattan and the Headwaters trail in Three Forks. The two local trail systems have partnered on the project and garnered support from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 to create a national network of trails in the U.S. by converting former railroad corridors into trails that are more accessible to a wider majority of people.

The Great American Rail Trail effort was launched in 2019 by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and will be a multiuse trail spanning 12 states. The trail is currently 53 percent complete with 2,000 existing miles on 150 different trails already in place. Fifty-four miles have been added to the route since the effort launched in 2019.

Local efforts are led by Buck Buchanan, president of the Manhattan Trail System, and Gene Townsend, chairperson of the Headwaters Trail System, with national support from Kevin Belanger, manager of trail planning with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Read more from Explore Big Sky here

When Recreating on the Water this Summer, be Safe and Follow the Law

Unseasonably warm weather is occurring early in Montana, and many boaters and anglers have been going to the local reservoirs and other waterways to get some relief from the heat. However, along with having fun, folks need to follow all the laws while out and about. Wardens have been checking a slew of boaters and anglers recently, and some common issues are recurring as summer is getting underway:

  • License possession while fishing
  • Required safety equipment on boats
  • Validation decals on boats
  • AIS check stations

For more information, read the full press release here.

American Trails Presents Advancing Trails Webinar Series

American 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:

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

Montana—Montana Featured in Two Segments on Good Morning America

  • How Montana is Bouncing Back After the COVID-19 Pandemic—ABC News' Will Reeve explores the Treasure State. Highlights include Philipsburg, State Parks, Tribal Nations and Live Entertainment. Watch the full segment here
  • Some of the Best Things to do Outdoors this Summer in Montana—ABC News’ Will Reeve shows how to take advantage of the great outdoors in Montana this summer with a focus on sustainability and responsible recreation. Watch the full segment here

Great FallsThousands of BMW Motorcycle Riders Gather in Great Falls—The 2021 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America national rally doesn't officially start until Thursday, June 24, but for the last several days, Montana ExpoPark has been filling up with bikes like this and tents as thousands of bikers from all across the country descended on Great Falls.

"These rallies are awesome. There's a lot of really outstanding people, a lot of fun people, people from just about every walk of life that have one thing in common. That's riding motorcycles and seeing the country and travel. It's good camaraderie,” said biker Gregory Orr.

Orr is from Wisconsin and was one of the many people camped out at the ExpoPark. "Tomorrow's going to be, I think, a riding day, maybe over to Glacier National (Park,)” said Orr.

Walking past the seemingly endless line of bikes at the ExpoPark, you'll see license plates from dozens of states - Georgia, Florida, Iowa, and Indiana just to name a few.

The Visit Great Falls, Montana Tourism agency estimated the rally could generate $2.5 million or more for the economy; that is based on how much money was spent by non-resident visitors to the city for all of 2019. Visit Great Falls, Montana Tourism director Rebecca Engum said the biggest stress leading up to the rally was trying to make sure everyone’s needs were met since many businesses weren’t operating at full capacity because of COVID until the last several weeks. Read more or watch the segment from KRTV here

West YellowstoneMuseum of the Yellowstone: The History of West Yellowstone is Intertwined with the History of the Park—The town of West Yellowstone in Montana is one of the gateways to Yellowstone National Park. Many people spend the night in town on their way to the park. Understandably, visitors are focused on getting to Old Faithful or the many other natural wonders in the park.

But, the town has a colorful history, which was and always will be interwoven with the park. Find out about the town by visiting the Museum of the Yellowstone. The town of West Yellowstone is high, at 6,660 feet elevation, with a population of 1,016 in 2018.

Yellowstone, the country’s first national park, was established on March 1, 1872. At the time, the only way to access it was by horseback or horse-drawn wagon, and there was no town on the western border.

West Yellowstone exists today because of its proximity to the national park. More tourists pass through this town than any other gateway. There is a symbiotic relationship between West Yellowstone the national park. They depend on each other, and their history shows it. Read more from the Spokesman-Review here.


Destination Analysts Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of June 21

Americans are feeling the normalizing effects of the grand reopening, with more summer trips planned and minds opened for travel inspiration. However, the renewed travel activity across the country may be causing attitudes towards local tourism to backslide.

Key Findings to Know: 

  • Americans are feeling the grand reopening: More than four-in-ten Americans now say that the U.S. is more than 70% back to normal for leisure activities—up from only 26.8% feeling this way in April. While there was little difference by age in this sentiment, those in the Northeast are likeliest to feel the country is closer to normal while those in the West are less likely.
  • Travel is the thing-to-do this summer: Three-quarters of American travelers will take at least one vacation or getaway over the next 3 months. In this same time frame, 15.3% will take a business trip and 7.5% will travel for a conference or convention.
  • Americans want more travel inspiration: The proportion of American travelers highly open to travel content is up to 73.1% this week. In the last week alone, eight-in-ten American travelers did some travel dreaming or planning towards their next trip. Online content/search engine marketing, social media, emails and travel & lifestyle magazines continue to be where Americans say they are most receptive to travel messaging.
  • The increase in travel may be causing attitudes towards local tourism to backslide: This week saw a 7-percentage point increase in the proportion of Americans who say they don’t want tourists in town (to 40.6% from 33.6%). Some of our latest research found that 40% of recent travelers had found other people irritating while out-and-about—could this annoyance be a reason for not wanting tourists in town? In any case, those who don’t want travelers visiting their local community right now demographically skew male, employed, urban-dwelling, Millennial-aged, parent of children under 18. On a positive note, 57.7% of American travelers said they would be happy to see an ad promoting tourism to their own community.
  • Beach destinations look poised for another year of stellar tourism performance: When asked about the destinations they will visit for the remainder of 2021, Americans reported the greatest certainty to visit beach destinations and resorts, and beaches were likeliest to be a primary trip destination, rather than a secondary or pass-through destination (in comparison, cities are similarly likely to be a secondary destination as a primary destination for travelers this year). Boding even better for beach destinations is that Americans demonstrate the greatest excitement for visiting these destinations—56.2% are highly excited to travel to beaches this year, 12 percentage points above National Parks, and 15 percentage points above cities.
  • American travelers’ top passions include Foodie-ism, International Travel, Concerts, Theme Parks, Health & Wellness and Theater Performances: As the pandemic recovery continues, more than 40% of American travelers report having high interest in each of these passions and hobbies.
  • Concerns about side-effects are preventing further vaccination-rate gains: This week, 19.2% of American travelers surveyed said they would not be getting themselves inoculated against COVID-19. When asked their reasons why, concerns about the vaccines’ side effects topped the list (40.1%), closely followed by feeling that the vaccines were not adequately tested (38.8%). On the flip side, about 90% of COVID-19-vaccinated travelers said being vaccinated makes them more comfortable traveling.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here

Other Dates/Events to Note

June 29-30, 2021MEDA Summer Conference—It is time to identify priorities and build strategies based on the Montana Next Generation of Community and Economic Development Tools study. MEDA and the NextGen Stakeholder Group are providing a facilitator so that on June 29th and 30th, we can identify priorities and strategize. A packet of “homework” will be sent prior to the conference so that you can be prepared. YOU, whether via Zoom or in person, are needed at the table. It’s time. For more information or to register, click here

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