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Tourism Department Changes Marketing Strategy During Pandemic


The South Dakota Department of Tourism is shifting its advertising approach in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tourism is the number two industry in the state. The virus could have an impact on the state’s bottom line.

The Department of Tourism is pulling back on its marketing spending and messaging. Messages are still going out to major markets, but are moving away from calls to action advertisements, for the time being. Those are ads encouraging people to book their vacation right now.

Instead, state Secretary of Tourism Jim Hagen says they’re employing a more inspirational message about South Dakota to keep it top of mind.

“We’ve been through these challenges before,” Hagen says. “When we get through it—as previous challenges like SARS have shown us, or swine flu—once we get through those crises there’s a pent up travel demand. People will want to travel, but it’s just weathering the storm right now is something we have to do.”

South Dakota is heading into the shoulder season of tourism, which are the outlying months before and after the major rush. Hagen says the department’s message to the tourism and hospitality industry right now is to stay calm and make decisions rooted in fact.

Last year, visitor spending rose by 2.8 percent, reaching $4.1 billion. That generated $308 million in state and local taxes in 2019.