Tribal Tourism Montana
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Sept. 30 is the deadline for several FY20 grant programs: Indian Equity Fund Small Business Grant, Tourism Grant Program, and Tribal Business Planning Grant.
This website is a resource for the development and promotion of the Indian Tourism Region in Montana, established by Senate Bill 309 of the 65th Montana Legislature in 2017.
The Indian Tourism Region includes the area recognized as being historically associated with the seven federally recognized reservations in Montana and the Little Shell Chippewa tribe.
Tribal Tourism Funding
Senate Bill 309 allocates 0.5 percent of Montana’s Lodging Facility Use Tax collections, which in fiscal year 2019 totaled $120,000, to develop and promote the Indian Tourism Region. Promotions include paid media (advertising), earned media (hosting journalists and photographers to visit Indian Country and produce editorial content), and owned media (VisitMT.com).
Additionally, the Montana Department of Commerce funds a full-time Tribal Tourism Officer and various programs for which tribal governments and tribal tourism may be eligible to apply (see below for TRIBAL TOURISM RESOURCES).
The Economic Impact of Tourism
Tourism is one of Montana’s leading industries. According to estimates by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana, 12.4 million visitors added $3.7 billion to the state’s economy in 2018. And the impact isn’t only limited to hotels and car rentals — it includes businesses of all kinds, such as artisan entrepreneurs. (Did you know nonresident visitors spent an estimated $94.3 million on Made in Montana products last year?)
According to research commissioned by Commerce, 82 percent of visitors to Montana expressed an interest in sites and experiences related to Native American history and culture.
Tribal Tourism Resources
The Montana Department of Commerce recommends guidelines produced by the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada to help tribal tourism businesses to identify and increase their capacity to host visitors. Click here to download the guidelines.
- Indian Equity Fund (IEF) Small Business Grant – Available to new or existing businesses owned by enrolled members of the tribes in Montana.
- Native American Collateral Support – For Native American owned businesses seeking traditional bank financing who need assistance in meeting their collateral requirements.
- Tourism Grant Program – Available to tribal governments, this reimbursement grant program helps tourism-related projects such as arts, culture and heritage preservation, visitor facility upgrades and construction, and niche product development.
- Tribal Tourism Scholarship Program – Funds may be available to help qualified applicants attend industry events and/or participate in educational opportunities. Budgets and opportunities vary by fiscal year but historically have included:
- Native American Business Advisors – No-cost business counseling available to tribal members at any stage of business development. NABAs may assist with IEF applications as well.
- Native American Made in Montana – For producers of products for sale, Native American Made in Montana is a free program in which members receive the ability to use a branded label and a website listing. Members may be eligible to apply for a sponsorship to exhibit at the annual Made in Montana Tradeshow for Food and Gifts.
- Certified Interpretive Guide – Workshops developed by the National Association for Interpretation may be scheduled at locations across the state.
- Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Recreation – The premier event for Montana’s tourism and recreation industry. There is a fee to attend; however, scholarships may be available.
Consumer Marketing Resources
- Indian Country Guidebook – Developed by the Office of Indian Country Economic Development at the Montana Department of Commerce in association with the tribes in Montana. Limited quantities of hard copies have been distributed across the state, while a digital download is available at VisitMT.com.
- Indian Country at VisitMT.com – The state’s official travel website receives 2 million visitors per year.
- Click here for instructions to claim your VisitMT.com business listing.
- WebDAM – The state’s digital asset management system includes free partner access to photography available to promote tourism.
In addition to the Indian Tourism Region, Montana is organized into six geographic tourism regions, each of which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting its area — including Indian Country. By working together, tribal communities and tourism regions may maximize their impact.
The following tourism regions include reservations: