Dear Hospitality & Tourism Industry Partners –
I hope this email finds you well as we make our way through the final month of 2020. There have been many COVID-19 protocol updates and changes since the last email as well as some optimistic outlooks on vaccines and recovery in 2021. We look forward to continuing economic growth and many successes for all of our partners in the new year.
COVID Testing Support for Employers:
Wyoming cares about employees and has made testing available to businesses and employees who live and work in the state. With winter upon us, the Wyoming Department of Health is offering free tests through a company called Vault Health. These tests are available at no cost; insurance is not necessary. The department and Vault Health will work with employers to support the use of the tests for Wyoming-based employees, including appropriate training. To learn more, visit the WDH’s COVID-19 Workplace Testing.
COVID Testing Support for Visitors:
Wyoming cares about our visitor’s health and wellbeing and understands the challenges faced with travel at this time. Some states are requiring testing when a traveler returns home. In an effort to assist our visitors, here are some helpful options:
- Guests can preorder and receive a VAULT test if they arrange for it to be shipped to a Wyoming lodging/rental address. These tests can be conducted in the convenience of a hotel room and on any schedule. All test results are sent directly to the guest; however, the local Public Health Office will also be notified if the test result is positive.
- Test results can take between 24-72 hours after the test is shipped to the lab.
- Guests who receive a positive test result who are still in Wyoming will need to follow the statewide ordinance requiring an in-state quarantine. The guest will be responsible for all costs associated with this additional stay.
- Guests who receive a positive test result (who showed no symptoms) and have already returned home (outside of Wyoming) agree to assisting local public health officials with contract tracing work for their time while they were staying in Wyoming.
Please, let's all do our part to keep Wyoming healthy and stop the spread of COVID-19.
Governor's Hospitality Loss Relief Program Open for Applications:
Governor Mark Gordon announced the opening of the Hospitality Loss Relief Program, which provides pandemic relief for hospitality businesses and nonprofits whose operations have been interrupted by the reduced hours provisions in recent health orders.
Awards up to $50,000 are available for Wyoming bars, taverns, restaurants, or hotels that derive their primary revenue between the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. from on-premises sales and consumption of malt beverages, wine, and/or liquor.
“Since this recent surge began, our goal has been to save lives, protect hospital capacity, and keep our economy going,” Governor Gordon said. “This program will provide relief to impacted businesses and provide an avenue to keep these owners and employees whole during the holiday season.”
The Hospitality Loss Relief Program opened Dec. 10 and closes Dec. 16 at 5 p.m. Learn more and apply at www.wyobizrelief.org/hospitality. A calculation worksheet, video tutorial, and frequently asked questions also are available on the website.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen resiliency in Wyoming businesses and have seen Wyomingites go the extra mile to support local establishments in a variety of ways,” Business Council CEO Josh Dorrell said. “This funding helps entities named in health orders offset additional losses, and we hope customers will adjust to the hours of operation as we get through this together.”
To be eligible for the program, revenue loss must occur between Dec. 9 and Dec. 30, 2020. Business Relief Program funding recipients are eligible, but entities cannot apply more than one time and must have had at least one full-time employee as of Dec. 1, 2020. All nonprofit organizations that meet the same criteria are eligible to apply for this program.
The program will use leftover federal CARES Act dollars; however, it is uncertain how much total funding will be available. Additional federal stimulus funds or an extension of the Dec. 30, 2020 CARES Act deadline could allow additional dollars to be directed toward this program.
Contact the following individuals and organizations for questions regarding the Hospitality Loss Relief Program:
Wyoming Craft Brewers Guild - Michelle Foster, 310-720-3769, email@example.com
Wyoming Distillers Guild - Mike Borg, 307-421-5750, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association - Chris Brown, 307-634-8816, email@example.com
Wyoming State Liquor Association - Mike Moser, 307-634-6484, firstname.lastname@example.org
Applicants may also call the Business Council’s toll-free hotline at 1-877-257-7844; live assistance is available Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through December 16.
Media Inquiries: Contact Strategic Partnerships Director Ron Gullberg at email@example.comCARES
CARES Funding Toolkit has been updated to include a new Tracking Form with updated categories provided by the Auditor's Office. These new categories have been laid out to help you track your expenditures. They are also in the proper format to cover all their own reporting needs, making it crucial that you follow this format to avoid additional reporting. Please work off this document or contact Jim Wollenburg for a copy of your specific tracking form. Once completed, all forms should be sent to both Jim Wollenburg and Dionne Roccaforte, no later than December 20th. It is vitally important that all tracking forms are received by our office for December 20th, so please don’t hesitate with questions you may have leading up to this date.
PPE Mask Distribution:
Through previous distributions and working with the local lodging tax boards, we have distributed nearly a half million masks to industry partners so far. However, there is still an opportunity to request additional PPE masks for 2021. If you haven’t already done so and are in need of masks, please follow this link to submit a request for your Visitor Information Centers. These PPE are provided at no cost and allow communities to support the public health messaging as well as help ensure the safety of the visitors, industry partners and residents as they enjoy the state. If you have any additional questions on the ordering process or fulfillment, please contact Kera Deakins.
Statewide Lodging Tax Webinar:
Thank you to those who joined the Wyoming Office of Tourism, The Wyoming Department of Revenue, the Wyoming Travel Industry and the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association for the educational webinar on December 8 to discuss the new 5% statewide lodging tax that will go into effect on January 1, 2021.
For those of you not able to join, WLRA/WTIC Executive Director, Chris Brown; Wyoming Dept. of Revenue Director, Dan Noble; and Wyoming Department of Revenue Excise Tax Division Administrator, Terri Lucero went through the details of the law and answered participant’s questions. To watch a full recording of the webinar please click here. If you have additional questions in regard to the Statewide Lodging Tax, please do not hesitate to reach out to Chris Brown. International Seminar focused on Wyoming and the Great American West:As discussed in October the regional tradeshow, International RoundUp 2020, which was to be held in Casper, was cancelled due to the safety concerns from COVID-19. While the international markets have taken some major hits over the past twelve months, it is still a valuable asset that will rebound quickly. Please join the Wyoming Office of Tourism, Rocky Mountain International and the additional Great American West states for a supplier seminar on May 21, 2021. Participation in the seminar is free to all Wyoming partners through WOT’s partnership with the Great American West. Please plan to join us for the virtual seminar to learn more about the international travel recovery process. The seminar will focus on further education about the international tourism industry, bringing in key players within the industry to speak and present on everyone’s part in the recovery process through collaborative effort. A complete agenda and schedule are being prepared and will be shared over the next couple of months.If you have questions about this seminar or the overall international marketing efforts, please contact James Scoon, the Director of Global Partnerships. Wyoming SBDC Network Develops Statewide Business Resource Locator Tool:
The Wyoming Small Business Development Center introduces an interactive business resource tool as an informational reference for Wyoming entrepreneurs, whether they’re in business or are looking to start a business. All agencies or entities included in the Business Resource Locator are public programs aimed at assisting new or established entrepreneurs grow or start their business. Resources are broken down by county for ease of navigation and relevance as well as by topic statewide.
The Wyoming SBDC Network CARES Act Recovery Program, funds appropriated by Congress through the 2020 CARES Act, assists businesses recovering from the negative effects of COVID-19 and has made this project possible and available to anyone in the state free of charge. Any entity in the state may link to this tool at WyomingBusinessResources.org.
The CARES Act Recovery program is ever-evolving as the Wyoming SBDC Network develops new tools to assist Wyoming entrepreneurs in their COVID-19 recovery. Find more information and links to free resources at WyomingSBDC.org/Covid19.
About the Wyoming SBDC Network: The Wyoming SBDC Network offers no-cost advising and technical assistance to help Wyoming entrepreneurs think about, launch, grow, reinvent, or exit their business. In 2019 alone, the Wyoming SBDC Network helped Wyoming entrepreneurs start 108 new businesses, create or save 3,402 jobs and bring a capital impact of more than $24 million to the state. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by the University of Wyoming with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council. Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
For more information, please contact Maureen Johnson with the SBDC.
Winter in Yellowstone:
This winter, the NPS is aligning the opening and closing dates for the East Entrance with other park entrances. Under this change, the East Entrance would open no earlier than December 15 and close no later than March 15. The existing seasonal closures of December 15-21 and March 2-15 were originally implemented due to avalanche safety concerns on Sylvan Pass. With many years of implementation, the NPS now has the operational capacity and expertise to safely open the pass on December 15 and to keep it open until March 15. This change will standardize opening and closing dates for the entire park. The one exception is the road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, through Mammoth Hot Springs to Cooke City, Montana. This road is plowed and open to automobiles all year.
Visitor services will be limited this winter, and dates may be subject to change. Check for updates at Explore in Winter. The following list highlights what visitor services will be available and when they will open:
- Lobby and restrooms only at the Canyon Visitor Education Center – December 15
- Geyser Grill and Bear Den Gift Shop - December 15
- Restrooms only at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center - December 15
- Old Faithful Visitor Education Center - TBD
Mammoth Hot Springs
- Mammoth Hotel & Cabins, Mammoth Hotel Map Room Barista/Bar, Dining Room, Mammoth Gift Shop and Ski Shop - December 15
- Mammoth General Store, medical clinic, campground, and post office - Open year-round
- Albright Visitor Center - TBD
- 24-hour gasoline pumps at Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Junction, Canyon Village, Fishing Bridge, Grant Village and Old Faithful - Open year-round
Warming huts at Fishing Bridge, Indian Creek, Madison, Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful, and West Thumb will provide shelter. Food, restrooms, and water will be available at some huts. All warming huts, except Mammoth Hot Springs, will open on December 15. Mammoth Hot Springs will open on December 16.
Plan ahead for your winter adventure. Visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/yell or download Yellowstone's App.
Applications for the Wyoming Tourism Board:
On March 1, 2021, the Wyoming Office of Tourism Board will have three openings:
- District 1 – Carbon, Albany and Laramie
- District 3 – Crook, Weston, Campbell, Johnson and Sheridan
For those interested in applying, please go to Governor Gordon’s website on Boards and Commissions to download the application. Completed applications must be submitted to the Office of Governor Mark Gordon for consideration. For questions or additional information, please contact Pamela Perea at Governor Gordon’s office: 307-777-7434; firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Wyoming Office of Tourism, please visit www.travelwyoming.com/industry.
Please submit by December 18, 2020
Board Vision Statement - The Wyoming Tourism Board is the leading proponent of the state’s tourism/hospitality industry. The Board provides governance and policy oversight for the state Office of Tourism.
Board Structure - The board shall be comprised of nine (9) members who shall be employed in or associated closely with the travel industry. The board shall be appointed by the Governor and approved with the advice and consent of the Senate, in accordance with W.S. 28-12-101 through 12 28-12-103. According to statute, no appointed member shall serve more than two (2) consecutive three (3) year terms.
Marketing and Messaging:
Please continue to visit travelwyoming.com/industry for the most up-to-date information on how to market and message as we move through the COVID-19 pandemic. You can help us by sharing this same information with your community partners so they can stay abreast of current actions and activities and help with the heavy lifting. Mark your calendars for National Plan for Vacation Day on January 26 and join us in sharing messaging around travel planning all month. A toolkit from U.S. Travel Association will be made available in early January.
As COVID concerns continue to fluctuate at a rapid pace, we are going to continue the monthly industry call. The next call is scheduled for Monday, January 4 at 9:30 am MT.
As always, please reach out anytime with any comments, questions or suggestions.
“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better for those around us.” – Anonymous