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SD leaders optimistic about tourism in 2021

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 10:43 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota’s second-largest industry is looking to have another big year in 2021.

It’s National Travel and Tourism Week across the nation, and in 2020, South Dakota ranked among the top places to visit.

That is something that state and local leaders are looking to build on.

“Oh my gosh there’s so much to see in South Dakota,” said Canton, Ohio native Cathy Tilley.

For first-time visitors Charles and Cathy Tilley, Sioux Falls was originally a pit stop on their way to Mount Rushmore, until they saw its beauty.

“We just landed here like a half-hour ago and it’s been non-stop amazing, we just love it here,” Cathy Tilley added.

The Tilley’s found out about South Dakota from friends, but the state says they’re seeing high interest online.

“The last 30 days alone our website traffic is up 173%, our inquiries are up 213%, those are people requesting a vacation guide,” South Dakota Secretary of Tourism Jim Hagen said.

In 2020, over 12 million visitors explored South Dakota in-person, generating over $3 billion in direct and indirect spending.

“They supported almost 50,000 jobs in the state of South Dakota, and by spending and raising us $276 million in state and local taxes that saved every single family in the state of South Dakota about $780 in their pockets,” said South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.

With a successful 2020 in the rearview mirror, there’s a big expectation for 2021.

“My expectations are very, very high and I think it’s going to be a very strong summer, so we just received data a few days ago from the U.S. Travel Association South Dakota is leading the nation when it comes to travel and tourism. We are the best-performing state in all the country,” Hagen added.

Sioux Falls alone has 31 sporting events scheduled for the summer, with hopes of including more.

“We’re open and ready for events to come, the events just have to get comfortable,” said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken.

Governor Noem highlighted that as more visitors come and even more people move to South Dakota, there’s a need for a larger workforce. The Governor says her office plans to roll out nationwide campaigns to continue to attract people to South Dakota throughout 2021.

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