For nearly two decades, the mountain pine beetle has spread across hundreds of thousands of acres of the Black Hills National Forest leaving behind millions of dead pine trees. While much has been studied on the ecological impact of the pine beetles, little has been done on the effects the infestation has had on the tourism business – one of the South Dakota’s main industries. Dr. Ignatius Cahyanto, Black Hills State University assistant professor of tourism and hospitality management, along with two student research assistants, has spent the last several months conducting a baseline study examining the perceptions of tourism businesses with regard to the infestation and their preventative behaviors. “We host 4.6 million visitors annually. They are coming to the Black Hills to see Mt. Rushmore but also because of the image of the Black Hills as an area with pine trees all over,” Cahyanto says. “If we lose those trees, we lose our defining attraction.” He’s presenting the findings at the World Research Summit for Tourism and Hospitality next week in Orlando.