(Revised September 28, 2020)
1. Question: Who is eligible to participate in this program?
Only the Destination Marketing Organizations (“DMOs”) designated by the state of Tennessee are eligible to receive funding under this program. DMOs from every Tennessee county have been allocated funding under this program.
2. Question: Are recipients required to apply for funds?
No, all recipients have already been allocated a share of funds and will not be required to submit an application.
3. Question: How much funding will my DMO receive?
The allocation amounts by county may be found at tncaresact.tn.gov. Recipients will have access to an online dashboard showing their total allocation and the available balance of funds throughout the duration of the program.
4. Question: When will we receive the funds allocated to our DMO?
Recipients will be able to request funds as they incur eligible costs. Each recipient will have access to the Tennessee CARES Act Management System (“TN CAMS”) which will be the portal where these requests are made. All Requests for Funding (“RFFs”) must include attached supporting documentation for expenses incurred. Payments will be made as soon as administratively possible after your request is approved.
5. Question: Will there be any advances of funds or will all funds be disbursed on a reimbursement basis?
There will be no advance of funds. All funds will be reimbursed after supporting documentation is provided.
6. Question: Is there a limit on the number of Requests for Reimbursement (RFFs) that a DMO may submit?
No. A DMO may submit an unlimited amount of RFFs for eligible expenses under this program. Please note, that all RFFs must be submitted into the TN CAMS system by November 2, 2020. If a DMO submits RFFs for an amount over and above its allocation those RFFs will be held in the system and not reimbursed unless additional funds are made available to this program.
7. Question: What substantiating documentation for program expenses will be required?
Supporting documentation for expenses will be required. Such support can include and may not be limited to receipts, invoices, and proof of payment, sample material from marketing campaigns. Proof of receipt or delivery is necessary to ensure confirmation of services rendered prior to December 30, 2020. Delivery can be documented by including a tracking number, email confirmation of delivery, shipping receipt, etc. Recipients should also include a narrative with their reimbursement request providing more detail that states what the expenses were used for and why they were necessary due to COVID-19.
Additionally, all supporting documentation should clearly identified the payor of the eligible expense. Please note, the payor must be the entity requesting the reimbursement.
8. Question: How will I receive the payment for the reimbursement?
Payments will be made following the settings associated with your supplier ID in the Tennessee Edison system.
9. Question: What is the deadline to spend the funds?
Recipients must spend funds and submit the appropriate reporting requirements by November 2, or else submit a request by November 2 which includes detailed plan explaining how they will spend their remaining fund balance before December 30, 2020. Failure to do so may result in de-obligation of funds.
For expenses that Recipients expect to be incurred in November and December, Recipients must submit some documentation along with their RFF demonstrating what that expense is, when payment is due, and why the expense is necessary due to COVID-19. Reimbursements for expenses after November 2, 2020, will not be reimbursed until proof of payment is supplied through TN-CAMS. All expenses must be requested, even if future expenses, by November 2, 2020.
10. Question: Can a purchase order be submitted for reimbursement and proof of payment be provided at a later time?
Yes, you may submit the purchase order with your initial request for funds, however, funds will not be disbursed until proof of payment has been provided. Accordingly please provide with your RFF the purchase order and then supply the proof of payment once you have it. Upon receipt of the proof of payment funds will be released.
11. Question: What documentation satisfies the proof of payment for RFFs?
Proof of payment may be substantiated by uploading check stubs, credit card statements, bank statements, or any other documentation sufficient to demonstrate that the expense that the DMO is seeking reimbursement for was actually paid by the DMO.
12. Question: Will a DMO be notified that its RFF is approved before it is required to expend the funds?
No. An official approval of RFFs will not be processed until proof of payment is substantiated by the DMO in the TN CAMS system. The DMO, however, may work with the program coordinator to submit any eligibility questions by email or schedule a call to discuss the documentation necessary to determine eligibility prior to submitting its RFF. The program coordinator will serve as your guide to all eligibility questions.
13. Question: What detail is required within the associated narrative?
The supporting narrative should be detailed in nature and include the following information:
- How the expense specifically promotes safe travel bringing tourism to TN or creates a marketing initiative to do the same.
- Why the expense was necessary due to COVID-19.
- Outline the additional expenses incurred related to a previously budgeted or planned event that were incurred due to COVID-19 (only additional expenses that would not have been incurred prior to COVID-19 are eligible).
- A description of how the expenses sought for reimbursement align with the documentation to be provided.
- When seeking reimbursement for professional services please include details regarding the services to be provided and why those are necessary due to COVID-19, and how they are tied to the safe return to TN or a marketing initiative promoting the same.
14. Question: Do all marketing promotions need to include a message relating to safety measures being implemented in response to COVID-19?
Marketing messages should include reference that the destination/attraction/facility/event is a safe experience for visitors/attendees. COVID response messaging/imagery may include but is not limited to: encouraging or demonstrating the need for visitors/attendees to utilize face coverings, follow social distancing guidelines, wash hands often and thoroughly, and limit attendance/close contact when visiting attractions/attending events.
15. Question: Can the funds be used to reimburse Administrative Costs?
Yes, administrative fees may be reimbursed as long as the fees are related to COVID tourism marketing projects. However, Administrative fees will only be reimbursed up to 10 percent of a recipient’s total allocation.
16. Question: What is an example of eligible Administrative Costs under this program?
Administrative Costs may include those costs necessary to pay an employee to set up or manage your marketing initiative that relates to getting tourists to return to the State of Tennessee and to your region safely in light of the pandemic. The payroll costs for that individual, subject to the cap of 10 percent of a DMO’s allocation, may be reimbursable but only for the payroll related to that employee's duties which are dedicated to responding to or mitigating COVID-19. General, across the board payroll reimbursement is not eligible under this program.
Additionally, when seeking reimbursement for administrative costs please include the following in your detailed narrative:
- A description of the duties rendered and their tie to COVID-19.
- The applicable hours spent and pay rate.
- A detailed description that aligns the administrative costs with the supporting payroll register documentation.
17. Question: Can the funds be used to reimburse DMOs for costs related to supplies purchased for their facility?
Yes, these expenses may be reimbursed if they were necessary to help protect employees, customers, and others from the spread of COVID-19. Examples of such costs would include: signage, floor stickers, clings, branded masks, hand sanitizer to ensure consumer is clearly informed of safety precautions. Again, all goods must be received by December 30, 2020, in order to be eligible for reimbursment under this program.
18. Question: Can the funds be used to purchase supplies necessary to make an event safe to attend in light of COVID-19?
Yes. Supplies necessary to make a tourist event safe are eligible for reimbursement under this program so long as they are purchased and delivered to the DMO by December 30, 2020. These expenses, however, must be necessary due to COVID-19, which means that, if you would have purchased the items regardless, even if the pandemic had never occurred, the expenses would not be eligible for this fund.
19. Question: Can recipients use the funds to reimburse eligible expenses incurred prior to this program?
Grant funds may be used to cover eligible costs incurred from March 1, 2020 – December 30, 2020. If eligible costs were incurred prior to this program, they may be covered by the DMO’s allocated funds as long as they were not incurred before March 1, 2020 and the required supporting documentation was maintained.
20. Question: Can the funds be used to reimburse recipients for costs associated with virtual conferences or events related to tourism?
Yes. Funds may be used to cover costs associated with virtual conferences, if the purpose of attending the virtual conference is to encourage the safe revival of tourist activity in Tennessee, and if the event takes place between March 1 and December 30, 2020. If the conference was previously scheduled as an in-person event, was regularly attended by the DMO in the past, and/or would have been attended regardless of the pandemic, then the switch to virtual alone does not necessarily make attendance COVID related. In short, attendance at any virtual conference must be tied to efforts to encourage the safe return of tourism to affected areas of Tennessee for the associated costs to be eligible.
21. Question: Can the funds be used to update a recipient’s website?
Yes. Costs to update a DMO’s website are eligible for funding, if the updates are related to encouraging the safe return of tourism to affected areas of Tennessee, and the updates are made and completed between March 1 and December 30, 2020. Other updates to a DMO’s website, that are unrelated to encouraging the safe return of tourism, would not be eligible.
22. Question: May a Recipient gift a portion of its funds to another organization to help with an event, or to help purchase necessary items for an event or organization in general?
No. Funds may not be transferred to another organization to assist with their events or general organizational needs. However, as part of efforts to encourage the safe return of tourism to affected areas of Tennessee, DMOs may purchase items related to that purpose (e.g., branded masks, sanitizer, etc.) and donate those items to organizations or their events to assist them in their efforts.
23. Question: Do all promotional materials purchased with these funds need to be distributed before December 30, 2020?
No, promotional materials do not all need to be distributed by December 30. However, the expense must be incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020 in order to be eligible for reimbursement. Guidance released by the U.S. Treasury regarding the use of these funds states that for a cost to be considered to have been incurred, performance or delivery must occur between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020. (Note that for any promotional materials purchased and delivered before December 30, but distributed after December 30, the cost of any distributing materials after December 30 (e.g., postage, personnel costs, etc.) would not be eligible to be reimbursed by this fund.)
24. Question: Can the funds be used to reimburse prepaid expenses for marketing initiatives that will extend beyond December 30?
No, if recipients prepay for contracts that will extend beyond December 30 (for commercial air time, billboard rental, etc.) they will only be reimbursed for the portion of the cost that falls within March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.
25. Question: Can the funds be used to replace lost revenue?
No, replacement of lost revenue is not a permissible use of these funds. All funds should be used to fund programs that are designed to promote the Tourism and Hospitality industries in a DMO’s community.
26. Question: Can the funds be used to purchase supplies necessary to make a previously scheduled event safe for tourists in light of COVID-19?
Yes. If an event was scheduled pre-COVID-19 then the costs of that event that were budgeted for pre-COVID-19 are not eligible for reimbursement, however, the additional expenses associated with making the event safer in light of the pandemic are reimbursable under this program. Examples of such expenses may include, but are not limited to, the purchase of additional facilities to maintain social distancing, hand sanitizers, hand washing stations, marketing regarding social distancing and CDC requirements, masks, etc.
27. Question: What expense categories can be used in the RFF?
The below table provides examples of eligible and ineligible expenses under this program. This table is not intended to be a complete representation of all eligible or ineligible expenses under this program. This table also includes the appropriate category of the eligible expenses which is required to be included in each Recipient's RFF per Treasury’s reporting requirements. A detailed narrative and supporting documentation must also accompany all RFFs. This narrative must outline the expenses, why such expenses were necessary due to COVID-19, and demonstrate that the costs were incurred between March 1, 2020 – December 30, 2020. Costs that would have been incurred regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic are not eligible for reimbursement under this program.
|Ideas for Potential Expense Reimbursement||Reimbursable: Y/N||Administrative Expenses||Personal Protective Equipment||Public Health Expense||Event - Other Items Not Listed||Marketing - Other Items Not Listed|
|Administrative Costs (i.e. payroll for an employee dedicated to running a safe travel campaign)||Y, up to 10%||X|
|Agency Production Costs (i.e. production of a campaign focused on safe travel to TN)||Y||X|
|Audio/Visual Equipment (camera, projector, screen, speakers, microphones) that was not required prior to COVID||Y, if part of a project||X||X||X|
|Bathroom Sanitary Equipment (hand dryers, towel stations, soap dispensers)||Y||X|
|Billboard marketing travel to TN||Y||X|
|Branded Hand Sanitizer bottles||Y||X||X|
|Digital Media (social, banner, e-news, content, etc.) campaign to promote safe travel to TN||Y||X|
|Distribution Costs of marketing campaigns related to safe travel to TN||Y, if incurred during eligible months||X|
|Virtual event production expenses such as videography, tech, talent, lighting, audio||Y||X||X|
|Event sponsorships for events created as a result of COVID||Y||X||X|
|Event tents if necessary for the event as a result of COVID||Y||X||X|
|Floor cling if necessary as a result of COVID||Y||X||X|
|Graphic designer fees (for costs associated with design for marketing a safe travel to TN)||Y||X|
|Influencer content for marketing campaigns promoting return/safe travel to TN||Y||X|
|Itinerary Content/Design for marketing campaigns promoting return/safe travel to TN||Y||X|
|Local Visitor Guides if necessary due to COVID||Y||X|
|Masks (TN Mask Movement, branded, generic, etc.||Y||X||X||X|
|Photography/Videography for marketing campaigns promoting return/safe travel to TN>/td>||Y||X||X||X|
|Print Ad for marketing campaigns promoting return/safe travel to TN||Y||X||X|
|Production Expenses (Talent, photography, videography, staging, etc.) for marketing campaigns promoting return/safe travel to TN||Y||X|
|Regional Promotion for marketing campaigns promoting return/safe travel to TN||Y||X|
|Signage (wayfinding, directional, distancing, yard)||Y||X||X|
|Stanchions/Line Partitions/Plexiglass necessary as a result of COVID social distancing||Y||X||X|
|Trade Shows that would not have been attended (or attended virtually) prior to COVID||Y (registration or marketing materials)|
|TV/Radio Broadcast Commercial Airtime for marketing campaigns promoting return/safe travel to TN||Y||X|
|Video Editing software as necessary as a result of COVID||Y, if utilized to edit video for this grant||X|
|Virtual Kiosks for Visitor Centers to promote social distancing||Y||X|
|Website Updates that were not previously planned or necessary prior to COVID||Y||X|
|Items NOT Eligible for Reimbursement||Reimbursable: Y/N||Reason|
|Budget shortfall||N||Federal Guideline|
|Giving funding directly to another entity||N||Subrecipients are ineligble|
|Office Supplies||N||Doesn't meet tourism marketing guidelines|
|Operational Costs||N||Federal Guideline|
|TN Vacation Guide Advertising and Marketing Co-ops||N||Doesn't meet timeline requirement|
|Travel||N||Doesn't meet tourism Marketing guidelines|
***The above table provides examples of eligible and ineligible expenses under this program. This table is not intended to be a complete representation of all eligible or ineligible expenses under this program. This table also includes the appropriate category of the eligible expenses which is required to be included in each Recipient's RFF per Treasury’s reporting requirements. A detailed narrative and supporting documentation must also accompany all RFFs. This narrative must outline the expenses, why such expenses were necessary due to COVID-19, and demonstrate that the costs were incurred between March 1, 2020 – December 30, 2020.