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Tourism Up Slightly From Last Year

Courtesy National Park Service

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is celebrating eight straight years of growth in visits to the state and dollars spent.

The department says spending increased by one percent, while visitation increased from the previous year by a tenth of a percent.

The department of tourism says the industry contributed $2.6 billion  in Gross Domestic Product to South Dakota’s economy. It’s the second largest industry in the state behind agriculture.

Secretary of Tourism, Jim Hagen, says the future of South Dakota tourism lies in some very niche markets.

He says their department is seeing a renewed interest in what he calls “authentic experiences.”

“Now, that’s not something that’s new over the last year. That’s something that’s been growing over the last five or six years—an interest in local breweries and wineries and agri-tourism,” Hagen says. “Sports tourism has really grown for us. Outdoor tourism is a niches that we’re seeing a lot of interest in.”

Hagen says in the future, his department will implement more research into those areas. He says they're using marketing techniques to reach those audiences, including digital marketing and social media,

Hagen says Minnesota and the Twin Cities remain a top market for tourism in the state. Hagan says the state is seeing an increase in traffic from tourists in Wisconsin and Chicago, as well.