Grant Programs

Tourism Grant Program

The Tourism Grant Program is pleased to announce a special application cycle to award funds of $5,000 up to $25,000 for an event to be held in Montana prior to June 30, 2020. The purpose of this special event grant cycle is to attract non-resident or out-of-area resident visitors to the event, enhancing attendance, and increasing visitor generated revenues. A high-level of concentration will be for events in rural communities, under-served regions of Montana, and by tribal communities.

Grants funds are available for either the creation of a new event or to make an on-going event more successful. Eligible events are those to be held for entertainment, arts, and destination brand events that fit within the following categories:

  • Attendance Event: creating or further developing a lifestyle event that generate attendance at and complete the Montana activity experience.
  • Enrichment Event: activities that enhance the experiences of visitors and residents through cultural and/or heritage activities.
  • Promotional Event: generating cost effective product and destination brand awareness through media exposure.

Ineligible events include: county or community fairs, school and league tournaments, high-school or family reunions, professional, or sporting and/or other events that are not identified as an interest to non-resident visitors [Montana Destination Brand Research Study].

Entities that are eligible to apply include non-profit entities and/or city, county, or tribal government that do not have an open/current Tourism Grant Award or Destination Development Grant. Eligible entities are limited to one application for one event, unless the event is a series that attracts non-resident or out-of-area resident visitors to the entire series and the series will end prior to June 30, 2020.

Applicants will need to demonstrate a partnership with at least 2 community partners including a tourism partner [Convention Business Bureau/CVB, Tourism Region, Chamber, or Tourist Business Improvement District/TBD] for the event. The role of each partner for the event must be detailed and a letter of support from at least 2 of the community partners is required with the application.

 

Apply Now

 

Each applicant could be eligible for $5,000 up to $25,000 in grant funds which are not meant to fully fund any event. A match is not required; yet funds are distributed on a reimbursement basis only for eligible costs which include:

  • Advertisement/marketing costs for increasing non-resident and resident visitors
    • Give-a-ways [so long as the item cannot be used for re-sale]
    • Digital marketing campaigns
    • Social media post boosts or ads
    • E-communications [eblasts] to targeted market segments
  • Event infrastructure costs
    • Port-a-potty stations
    • Shuttle bus services from a lot to the event
    • 25% of venue/facility costs
  • Hospitality room food & non-alcoholic beverage costs
  • Signage costs including production, construction and/or installation costs directing attendees to the event

 

Awards, and funding amount awarded, will be based on the number of total applications received as well as by a review and evaluation process by the Tourism Grant Program Manager, the Industry Services & Outreach Bureau Chief, and a Tourism Advisory Council member. A high-level of concentration will be for events in rural communities, under-served regions of Montana, and by tribal communities. The time frame for the Spring Special Application Cycle looks like:

Spring Special Application Cycle

 

If you have question please contact Michele Cushman at 841-2796 or Jan Stoddard at 841-2894. You can also contact us by email.

Frequently Asked Questions & About/Overview of the Tourism Grant Program

About the Tourism Grant 2-Page Overview [pdf]

Tourism Grant Program Frequently Asked Questions [pdf]

2019 Economic Impact of Tourism [pdf]

Tourism Grant Program Application Workshop [forthcoming]

 

Tools for Grantees

Request for Funds Template [word]

How & What to Submit with an RFF [video without sound]

Final Project Report Template [forthcoming]

Federal W9 Tax Form [pdf]

Electronic Funds Transfer Form [pdf]

 

Resources & Complementary Programs

  • The Institute for Tourism & Recreation Research conducts travel and recreation research in Montana, with a primary focus on the nonresident travel survey conducted throughout the state. ITRR is perhaps best known for producing the widely used statewide estimates of total nonresident visitation and travel expenditures, as well as visitor characteristics, in the state each year, along with the annual estimate of the economic contribution of nonresident travel to Montana’s economy.
  • The Montana Governor's Office of Outdoor Recreation serves as a centralized point of contact and coordination for the broad outdoor recreation constituency with a focus on advocacy, policy, support, and growing new opportunities within the outdoor recreation industry.
  • The MOTBD Finance Information Center provides summary information to assist the businesses and communities of Montana in achieving economic prosperity, keeping in mind that the vision of prosperity to be achieved must be defined by the businesses and communities.
  • The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program helps local governments fund construction or rehabilitation of infrastructure and facilities that primarily benefit low-income to moderate-income Montanans.
  • The Montana Main Street Program helps communities strengthen and preserve their historic downtown commercial districts by focusing on economic development, urban revitalization, and historic preservation through long-range planning, organization, design, and
  • The Indian Country Economic Development Programs page provide all of the business resources available to Native American businesses and tribal governements in Montana under one office.
  • The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides funds to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities in Montana.
  • The Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program provides funding for rural projects through local utility organizations for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas.

Entities in Montana that are eligible to apply for a Tourism Grant include:

  • A registered non-profit organization [501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6)]
  • A Tribal government
  • A City or County government

Eligible entities cannot use funds as a pass-through for ineligible entities, which include for-profit businesses, individuals, and State or Federal agencies. Eligible entities are limited to one application for one proposed project per funding cycle.

The asset/proposed project must be owned by the entity applying for the grant or the applicant must have a long-term lease with automatic renewal in place with the owner [such as for placing or constructing an asset on leased land or a project that is within a facility that is rented]. If a non-profit is considering submitting an application where the asset or land where asset is constructed is owned or co-owned by a City or County or Tribal government, it is recommended that the City or County or Tribe be a co-applicant.
 

Funds are awarded to tourism and recreation projects that fall within the categories of:

  • Arts / Culture / Heritage Preservation: projects that preserve, protect, or restore Montana’s arts, culture, and/or heritage treasures.
  • Visitor Facility Upgrades / Construction: projects that will enhance the non-resident visitor experience and increase expenditures.
  • Niche Product Development: projects of interest to non-resident visitors as identified in Montana Destination Brand Research Study.

Qualified applicants must demonstrate a cash match of actual and committed money invested in the proposed project. The cash match is $1 applicant to $2 award. For example: an applicant requesting $6,000 grant award must demonstrate they have $3,000 committed to the completion of the project as match. In-kind services, in-kind labor, and/or volunteer hours cannot count as applicant match.

Tourism Grant funds can only be requested for actual project and activity related costs. Examples of ineligible project costs include but are not limited to: workshops and training; market research or feasibility studies; staff costs including wages, travel, per diem; administrative, overhead, or indirect costs; office supplies; promotional items; subscriptions or membership costs; domain registration and website hosting; social media posts or press releases; routine operation and maintenance costs.

The Tourism Grant Program is not intended to be a sustainable source of funds. A key component of a successful application to the Tourism Grant Program is for the applicant to demonstrate the proposed project has the support of community and tourism partners. These partnerships build sustainability and assist with destination marketing upon successful completion of the project. The amount and frequency of previous grants to an eligible entity will be taken into consideration and may affect the success and/or amount of subsequent potential awards.

Applications are accepted via an online platform beginning July 1st of each fiscal year. The application window closes at 5 pm MST on September 30th of each fiscal year. The typical timeline looks like:

Tourism Grant Application Timeline

Applications are evaluated by a review team comprised of three staff in the Industry Services & Outreach Bureau, a staff member with the Office of Indian Country Economic Development, a staff member with the Community Development Division, and a board member of the Tourism Advisory Council. Applications are reviewed by how well the applicant would market the proposed project upon completion to measure the impact to non-resident visitors; proposed projects that are identified by the community as key tourism development projects in a community, strategic, or tourism/recreational plan; and proposed projects that are supported by tourism and community partners.

Approximately $750,000 is awarded annually through the Tourism Grant Program. Since 1995, over $10.8 million dollars has been awarded to 391 tourism and recreation related projects resulting in a positive economic benefit for communities throughout Montana.

Map of 2019 Tourism Grant Projects

Click here to view & download the Cumulative List of Tourism Grant Awards from 1995-2019. [pdf]

The Tourism Grant Program awards funds to projects that strengthen Montana’s economy through the development and enhancement of the State’s tourism and recreation industry. Funds are awarded annually to projects that develop and enhance tourism and recreation products that have the potential to increase non-resident visitation.

The Tourism Grant Program is funded by the 4% Lodging Facility Use Tax; commonly known as the “Bed Tax”, which is collected from guests of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, guest ranches, resorts, and campgrounds. For the fiscal year 2019, the projected bed tax distribution is:

Distribution of Lodging Tax Funds

Of the 58.2% collected bed tax distributed to the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development, approximately $750,000 is awarded annually through the Tourism Grant Program.


MONTANA OFFICE OF TOURISM AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT | MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
301 S. PARK AVE. | P.O. BOX 200533 | HELENA, MT 59620-0533 |  T: 406.841.2870 |  F: 406.841.2871 | TDD: 406.841.2702