Tourism numbers in South Dakota continues to increase throughout the state. Governor Dennis Daugaard says this year saw a nearly three percent increase in economic impact because of tourism compared to 2012 numbers. Tourism increased despite the spring Ice Storm in southeastern South Dakota along with the October blizzard in the western part of the state.
Governor Daugaard says 2013 tourism numbers are strong. He says the direct impact on the state's economy is nearly $2 Billion. The Governor gives credit to the citizens of the state.
"We’re a friendly people, we’re very welcoming to outsiders, we’re proud of our state, we’re excited when people come to see us because we like to show off our wears and I think we’ve got great wears to show off," Daugaard says.
Daugaard says South Dakota may not be as flashy as some states with oceans or year round warm climate, but he says this is proving to not be an issue.
"There (are) lots of places that might have the geography that we have in one part of the state or another part of the state. But there’s only one Mount Rushmore, there’s only one Crazy Horse, there’s only one Buffalo roundup," Daugaard says.
For every dollar spent on marketing tourism in 2013, five dollars came back to the state. Governor Daugaard says there is also an increase in international visitors to South Dakota.
"I think another thing that people see in South Dakota versus other tourist destinations is a family friendly environment. People have the vision of South Dakota as being a place they can safely bring their family and there’s lots of things for all age ranges to do," Daugaard says.
Compared to other states South Dakota has a lot going for it according to Secretary of Tourism Jim Hagen. He uses roads as an example.
"This past summer I was in one of our competitor states and I was amazed at just the poor quality of the roads I was driving on in that state. And the moment I got back to South Dakota I called up Secretary Bergquist in (The Department of Transportation in South Dakota) and just said you know Darin, I have been traveling all summer all around the region. I am so pleased and happy with the quality of our interstates, our states highways," Secretary of Tourism Hagen says.
Both Hagen and Governor Daugaard expect tourism to continue to increase because of the increase this year with a spring ice storm in the eastern half and an October blizzard in the west. Jim Hagen says if the weather cooperates 2014 could break more tourism related records.
To see the 2013 Department of Tourism Annual Report, click here