Montana Tourism Grant Program
There are presently no open calls for applications.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. Qualified 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 plan, strategic plan, or tourism/recreational plan; and proposed projects that are supported by tourism and community partners. In mid-to-late December, Tourism Grant Program awards are announced and applicants that are not funded are provided an opportunity for technical assistance.
For more information, resources, and direct contact information please visit the Tourism Grant Program website at https://marketmt.com/TourismGrants.