Tourism, the Little Engine That Can

Supporting our economy, while keeping our mountain town as safe as possible

By Tourism Business Improvement District Board of Directors

As with many tourism businesses in the Flathead Valley, we were not sure if we were going to make it earlier this spring and summer. Hotel occupancy dipped into single digits, a 14-day quarantine was placed on out-of-state travelers and we weren’t sure who was going to survive the economic crash that came with the arrival of COVID-19. And while it was a season unlike any other, Kalispell did OK. In fact, we did better than many of our cohorts throughout the country. People wanted to come to Montana and get away from the crowds of big-city destinations, breathe in our fresh mountain air and practice social distancing.

After travel restrictions were lifted by Gov. Steve Bullock, the arrival of non-resident travelers brought a whole other slew of issues. Along the way Discover Kalispell (which is the tourism brand for the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce) strived to keep our community safe by talking with visitors who were already here – and those who were thinking of coming – making sure they knew how to travel responsibly, where to find the latest information on state and county health guidelines and what we needed from them to keep our community safe. The organization also had a tightrope to walk – needing to help protect Kalispell and its residents while also supporting tourism, Montana’s second-largest industry. With the implementation of our Safety First, Adventure Second campaign over the last several months, Discover Kalispell and the Kalispell Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) hotels were able to play a key role in supporting our economy, while keeping our mountain town as safe as possible.

With a wild summer and early fall behind us, we’re looking optimistically to the future. While there are many unknowns for the travel industry, data is showing that Americans have a continued desire to travel and enjoy winter sports and activities. As we move swiftly into winter, we urge you to look to Discover Kalispell as a source of information and the latest on coronavirus as it relates to travel to resources and content for promoting your business to visitors. And while we know that the revitalization of the travel industry is a marathon and not a sprint, Discover Kalispell and the Kalispell TBID will be working diligently towards recovery and the return of events, meetings and conventions as we ensure that tourism continues to be a strong economic driver in Kalispell, all while providing a safe and healthy destination for both visitors and residents alike.

To our fellow Flathead Valley businesses, thank you for your hard work and ongoing commitment to provide safe spaces for our visitors and residents during this challenging time.

Board of Directors
Tourism Business Improvement District

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