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State Tourism Celebrates Decade Of Growth

Chad Coppess
SD Department of Tourism

South Dakota tourism is boasting of a tenth year of industry growth.

According to the annual study done by the Department of Tourism, the state says it welcomed 14.5 million visitors, an increase of 3.1 percent over last year.

Those visitors spent $4.1 billion dollars, an increase of 2.8 percent.

Jim Hagen is the Secretary of the Department of Tourism. He says that increase came despite natural disasters that afflicted the state.

“Early on, we saw that things were not quite where we wanted them to be in terms of number of visitors coming,” Hagan says. “So, we went into our target markets, did some supplemental marketing. As soon as we did that in places like Chicago and Minneapolis we just started seeing an uptick. So, even though we were facing the flooding all summer long, this industry has been really resilient.”

Hagen says visitor numbers started increasing toward the second half of the season.

Statehouse lawmakers are debating a bill that singles out transgender children and medical care they may receive. Other bills or laws passed in other states have resulted in economic consequences.

Hagen says regardless of political philosophies or ideologies, the message from the state’s tourism industry is that all visitors are welcome.