South Dakota reaches new record in tourism visitor spending
PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, Jim Hagen, spoke to the 2022 Governor’s Conference on Tourism Wednesday in Pierre and released data that shows South Dakota flourished when it came to tourism revenue in 2021.
”I would say visitor spending is my number one data point that I’m extremely excited to see. The fact that it rose to $4.4 million over last year, a 30 percent increase, it’s outstanding,” said Hagen.
That record-breaking visitor spending is fundamental to supporting local economies
”That revenue is huge. Not only for the state, but for each community inside the state. When we’re greeting those hunters and those visitors and those international travel tour groups that come to the state, the revenue that they bring provides jobs,” said Casey Weismantel, Executive Director of the Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
South Dakota also saw a 26% increase in visitors in 2021 and collected $184 million dollars in local tax revenue from tourism activity. A 12% increase in visitors to state parks during the pandemic was also seen last year.
”A lot of people are looking to get outside, kind of get away from people, and there’s nowhere better to do that than in state parks. Especially Custer State Park, we saw a record number of visitation this past year. In 2021, we saw 2.3 million visitors,” said Kobee Stalder, the Custer State Park Visitor Services Program Manager.
South Dakota also had an increase of $69 million in state and local tax dollars generated by tourism activity. This contributes to over five percent of South Dakota’s GDP.
”I’m just so proud of the way we’ve been able to respond to the pandemic. We know there are challenges that are still in front of us, but we’re going to tackle those challenges and respond in a smart way to those. We’re optimistic that 2022 is going to be an even better year than 2021,” said Hagen.
The Omicron variant, gas prices, labor shortages and inflation were listed by Hagen as obstacles going in to 2022, but he predicted that South Dakota’s tourism industry would continue to thrive.
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