Friday Flash 10/22/21

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Reminders/Updates for Our Tourism Partners

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  • Tourism Partner Call—This bi-monthly call is dedicated to the six tourism Regions, 16 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. 
    • December 1, 2021
    • January 26, 2022
    • March 23, 2022
    • May 25, 2022
    • July 27, 2022
    • September 28, 2022
    • November 23, 2022
  • November 9 & 10, 2021 (9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. both days)Glacier Country Tourism Summit: Business Insights for Reaching New Heights—Join Glacier Country Tourism, Western Montana's official destination marketing and management organization (DMO), Destination Analysts, Tread Lightly!, Tourism Diversity Matters, Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, Job Service Missoula, ABMJ Consulting and Janna Lundquist Consulting for a meeting of the minds.

    Discussion will include travel and tourism trends, diversity, equity and inclusion, responsible motorized recreation messaging, building on your social media, and workforce development and training.

    Come learn how to take advantage of Glacier Country Tourism’s marketing assets to grow and support your business. Our tourism and marketing experts can help you market your business or organization to travelers. There's strength in numbers, after all. For more information or to register, click here
  • January 20, 2022Region/CVB 2nd Quarter FY22 Financial Reports Due
  • February 7, 2022—TAC Meeting 
  • April 20, 2022—Region/CVB 3rd Quarter FY22 Financial Reports Due
  • June 14-15, 2022—TAC Meeting
  • July 20, 2022—Region/CVB 4th Quarter FY22 Financial Reports Due Redesign

A new version of VISITMT.COM launched October 1. This soft launch currently includes seasonal winter content only, but warm season content will be added with the goal of having the site fully complete by the end of the calendar year.

Our user testing of the old site showed that we needed to provide clearer and quicker access to our information on listings and itineraries. The old web site emphasized amazing photos of Montana, which succeeded in inspiring visitors, but did not provide easy access to the information they were seeking.

Our solutions included making the site content more accessible using a visible mega-menu at the top of the web page to give quick access to content, scaling back the use of photos in favor of informative text and adding flight and lodging booking right in the mega-menu.

Tourism Grant Program

2022 Tourism Grant Update

The FY22 Tourism Grant application submissions are currently being evaluated. We anticipate an announcement of the tourism grant awards for this cycle in late November. We encourage you to subscribe to receive email updates from the Department of Commerce for other and future funding opportunities by clicking here. For more information about the Tourism Grant Program, please visit our website at MARKETMT.COM

Made in Montana

2022 Made in Montana Tradeshow 

The Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food & Gifts is scheduled for March 11-12, 2022 in Helena at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. 

Made in Montana Members in the News

Montana Company Hopes to Become a Gamechanger in Indoor AgricultureYou may not give much thought to where the vegetables on your plate come from, but one company with Montana roots has, and it’s setting its sights on changing agriculture by bringing innovation to indoor farming.

Local Bounti built its first large state-of-the art-greenhouse in Hamilton and has plans for several more in the Northwest as it prepares to go public in coming weeks. “Indoor agriculture is here to stay. It will make a big impact in the food supply globally,” says Craig Hurlbert, co-founder and co-CEO.

Hurlbert grew up in Billings and helped lead Billings West to a state basketball title in 1980. He’s one of the top amateur senior golfers in the nation, but his record as a business leader and entrepreneur is just as impressive. Read more from KTVQ here

Montana Film Office

MFO Logo

FY22 Big Sky Film Grant

The Montana Film Office is excited to announce that the Fiscal Year 2022 Big Sky Film Grant (BSFG) is open for submissions and will be awarding $1.5 million dollars in grant funds to selected productions — AND we’ve extended our deadline to November 29, 2021, midnight, MST.

Grant applications are being accepted in 3 categories: Feature Film & TV, Resident Filmmaker, and Short-Form Content. Visit our BSFG webpage HERE for more details on categories and program details. Before applying, please read the program’s Instructions & Guidelines HERE.  

To be considered for the FY22 BSFG round, please apply by November 29, 2021 – 12:00 am, MST.

Applications are accepted via Submittable platform and found on our website HERE.

The BSFG program builds and supports partnerships with filmmakers and production companies with the intention to create Montana film industry jobs. The grant program enhances the marketing efforts of Montana’s tourism regions and advocates for the state’s people, history, and overall quality of life. The BSFG and the Montana Film Office are funded by the 4% Lodging Facility Use Tax - commonly known as the “Bed Tax.”


International News

International Travel Update

Beginning November 8, the US will allow fully vaccinated foreign travelers to enter the United States, either by air or by land or ferry crossing. White House officials said the new rules would go into effect Monday, Nov. 8, both at the land borders and for people arriving from a number of overseas countries where travel to the US has been banned since March 2020. The unprecedented travel restrictions kept millions of visitors out of the United States from China, Canada, Mexico, India, Brazil, much of Europe and elsewhere.

Non-U.S. air travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight and will need to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. Foreign visitors crossing a land border will not need to show proof of a recent negative test however. The new rules do not require foreign visitors or Americans entering the country to go into quarantine.

There have been questions about which vaccines the US will recognize and whether or not mixed doses will be recognized. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently declared that people with “any combination” of two doses of a vaccine approved by either the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO) “are considered fully vaccinated.” Permitting those with "mixed doses" of acceptable vaccines to enter is particularly relevant to Canada, where approximately 3.8 million residents received mixed doses. The CDC said "individuals who have any combination of two doses of an FDA approved/authorized or WHO emergency use listed COVID-19 two-dose series are considered fully vaccinated."

There also are questions about what form of proof of vaccination the US will accept because the US does not have a "COVID passport" as some other countries do. Details on that are still to be released. Read International Travel FAQs from the U.S. Travel Association here.

Outdoor Recreation

Yellowstone Plans Ceasing Winter Wildlife Surveillance, Concentrating on Summer

Six years of monitoring Yellowstone National Park’s wildlife during winter has shown bison and elk are fairly accustomed to snowmobile and snowcoach use, prompting managers to recommend ending the surveillance.

“Animals have gotten used to visitation and vehicles in the park, but it’s a much more controlled situation today than before,” said Ray McPadden, chief of Environmental Equality at Yellowstone.

Since 2013 the park has limited winter snowmobile and snowcoach use in the park, resulting in a considerable reduction in traffic and visitation.

The park is taking comments on its proposal through Nov. 1. If approved, the workload would be dropped from the staffs’ to-do list beginning this winter. Yellowstone's winter season begins on Dec. 15 with limited services. Read more from KPVI here

Recreation Economy Release

November 9, 2021—8:00 a.m. MST (virtual via Zoom)—Join Recreation Roundtable for the release of new 2020 government economic data showing the size and impact of the outdoor recreation industry!

This is the fourth consecutive year that the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis will release information on outdoor recreation's economic impact and how our industry grows jobs and supports the economy at state and national levels.


  • Members of Congress
  • Outdoor recreation industry leaders
  • Administration officials
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis experts
  • State Office of Outdoor Recreation directors

To register for the event, click here

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


Columbia FallsColumbia Falls Becomes 11th Montana Area with a Resort Tax—Columbia Falls in northwestern Montana is the 11th Montana community to enact a resort tax.

While voters approved the 3 percent tax in June 2020, the city delayed implementation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The tax took effect on Oct. 1, the Flathead Beacon reported.

It applies to non-essential goods and services sold in the city limits and exempts necessities such as medication, groceries, appliances, tools, hardware and vehicles. Also exempted are daily necessities such as diapers, cleaning supplies, soap, toilet paper, vitamins, gasoline and utilities.

State law allows cities with fewer than 5,500 residents, where a majority of the economy is based on tourism, to implement such taxes. Unincorporated areas with fewer than 2,500 residents can also implement a resort tax. Read more from The Western News here

Missouri River Country TourismSouthern Sask. Communities Sign Agreement with Montana Tourism Organization to Increase Cross-Border Travel—A group of Saskatchewan towns has partnered with Montana’s Missouri River Country tourism organization to promote cross-border tourism in both areas. The cohort of communities is known as South Saskatchewan Ready and is made up of nine rural municipalities near the Saskatchewan-U.S. border.

“We thought it would be a good idea to partner with our friends in the U.S. (who have) very similar types of topography and lands, and people,” said Sean Wallace, the managing director of South Saskatchewan Ready.

The partnership aims to increase travel to both regions and the groups plan to develop a three-day itinerary and a seven-day itinerary to allow tourists to experience the best southern Saskatchewan and northeastern Montana have to offer. “We figured it might be a good idea to partner with them and expand our market a little bit more in the U.S., and it gives them an opportunity to do the same,” said Wallace. Read more from CTV News here

WhitehallPlans Announced for Western Legacy Center in Whitehall—Plans were announced Thursday for the Western Legacy Center, a tourism-based facility in Whitehall aimed at sparking the economy in Jefferson County, as well as celebrating Montana’s cowboy, cowgirl, Native American and rodeo heritage.

The center at 3 Whitehall Road is adjacent to Interstate 90 and is the creation of the Jefferson Local Development Corp., in conjunction with Jefferson County officials and the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame, which will be housed within the building.

It will feature other historical themes including railroad, mining, mountain men, and Native American culture. It is expected to be open by May and tap into the tourist season. It will also include a retail area where local and statewide businesses can sell unique "Made in Montana" products onsite. It will include an e-commerce component to drive year-round sales and increase visitation. Read more from Montana Right Now here


Destination Analysts Update on American Travel Trends & Sentiment—Week of October 18

Just in time for the holidays, enthusiasm for travel is rebounding from the Delta-variant demise, nearing early Summer levels. In fact, despite the pandemic continuing to depress travel demand from reaching 2019 levels, the outlook for the Holiday travel season looks bright.

Key Findings

  • Normalcy continues to return, as the impact of the Delta variant wanes. In terms of resuming leisure activities, fully 28% of Americans feel that the U.S. has a significant degree of normalcy, up from 24.7% the week of October 4th. This puts Americans at a Spring 2021 level mindset but not quite near Summer. These feelings of normalcy have increased most amongst Millennial-aged travelers (31.7%, up from 26.6%), but Baby Boomers are also feeling better (24.4%, up from 21.1%). Normalcy is also recovering across the U.S., particularly among those residing in the West (28.6%, up from 24.9%), Midwest (29.1%, up from 22.7%) and South (28.5%, up from 23.8%). Additionally, Americans are feeling COVID-19’s impact on their ability to have meaningful travel experiences lessen (down to 34.4% from 36.9% October 4th). Meanwhile, perceptions of travel activities’ safety made a sharp jump back up to 50.5% (from 42.1% October 4th), putting this metric back to Summer levels.

  • Enthusiasm for travel is rebounding, just in time for the Holiday season. Strong feelings of excitement for travel are up to 75.7% from 64.4% the week of October 4th. In addition, researching travel ideas and making travel bookings have both increased in the past week, fueled by improving expectations for the coronavirus situation (39.1% now feel things will get better in the next month, up from 26.9% just two weeks ago). When asked about their travel state-of-mind, 82.0% of American travelers are “ready,” back at early Summer levels.

  • Despite headwinds, it’s a bright outlook for Holiday travel. While not recovered to 2019 levels– when 52.8% of American travelers embarked on holiday-related trips—44.9% currently report having at least tentative plans to hit the road this season. This represents a nearly 17 percentage point gain from 2020 (fear of COVID and not wanting to risk the health and safety of loved ones remain the top deterrents to Holiday travel). These holiday travelers plan to take an average of 2.8 holiday-related trips (up from 2.4 in 2020), with Christmas the most popular inspiration (59.3%), followed by Thanksgiving (44.7%) and New Year’s (25.7%). There are also signs of increased holiday spending. When asked if they expect to spend more, less or the same for holiday travel this year, 33.7% of American travelers plan to spend more on holiday travel than they did in 2020 (up from 14.9%). Also indicating a potential opportunity for the travel industry, nearly three-quarters (72.0%) of American travelers reported that they would feel either happy or very happy to receive a travel-related gift this holiday season (up from 47.0% in 2020). And whether they are traveling or not, Americans are excited about the holidays (62.1% describe their excitement as at a high level) and 52.4% confirm they are more excited for the 2021 season compared to 2020.

  • Leisure and business travel expectations for the remainder of the year have increased. Compared to two weeks ago, more Americans are planning overnight trips in the next 3 months—both for leisure (57.7%, up from 49.3%) and business (14.7%, up from 11.8%). December appears to be the peak month for overnight trips in the remainder of 2021 (32.4%). Leisure (47.2%) and business (12.4%) day trip expectations for the next 3 months have also increased.

  • American workers are eager to take a break from the screen and get back to in-person meetings. Amongst employed American travelers, 44.3% said they regularly use web conferences to conduct business. Of these regular web-conference users 68.7% say they have felt the effects of “Zoom fatigue” and 62.8% agree that they are tired of web conferencing and are eager to get back to the in-person meeting experience.

  • Vaccination support continues to grow. This week, 77.4% of American travelers report being vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccinated American travelers are feeling more confident in the safety provided by their vaccine (62.1% up from 52.3%). In addition, Americans are showing increased support for vaccine requirements on airlines and “no fly” lists for problematic passengers. Right now, 66.5% agree that airline passengers should be fully vaccinated or present a negative COVID-19 test (up from 60.3% two weeks ago). Meanwhile, 66.3% of American travelers support a national “no fly” list to protect airline employees and 49.8% say that establishing a national “no fly” list would make them more interested in traveling. Meanwhile, 56.9% say they would support an indoor vaccine mandate in their own community.

Read more from the Destination Analysts report here.

Other News

2020 & 2021 Manufacturer of the Year Awards

Over the past decade, manufacturing has remained economically stable, with manufacturing employment and income outpacing the state average. Appreciating manufacturing's contribution to a healthy Montana economy, the Montana Chamber and the Montana Manufacturing Association are pleased to present the 2020 and 2021 Manufacturer of the Year Awards!

Funding Resources

Montana Main Street Planning and Project Grant Now Open!

The application cycle for the Montana Main Street Planning and Project Grant is now open for Montana Main Street member communities. The deadline to apply is December 9, 2021.

Grants are available for Montana Main Street member communities for comprehensive revitalization projects; this includes planning activities like a downtown master plan and project activities like seed money to implement a façade improvement program.

The Montana Main Street Planning and Project Grant application and further information on the program can be found here

If Montana Main Street member communities have questions about potential projects, please contact the Community Development Division at 406.841.2770 or

WHIP Grant Application Period Open

The annual application period is open for the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP), a grant funding program administered by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The purpose of WHIP is to accomplish large-scale restoration of private and publicly owned high priority wildlife habitats through noxious weed management.

Grant expenditures are limited to herbicide, mechanical, biocontrol and re-seeding treatments, specifically to restore wildlife habitat functions. Grazing management improvements may also be funded through the program to restore native wildlife habitats and reduce susceptibility to noxious weed invasion.

The WHIP webpage includes links to specific instructions for using AmpliFund for WHIP grants (How to Apply for a WHIP grant in AmpliFund) and to the application.

WHIP applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on November 23, 2021 to be considered for funding in 2022. If you have questions about applying for a WHIP grant or accessing the application forms, contact Kim Antonick, WHIP coordinator, at or 406.444.7291.

Other Events/Dates to Note

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: