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How the Coronavirus could have an impact on South Dakota travel & tourism

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Published: Mar. 4, 2020 at 2:55 PM CST
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Right now the emphasis is on preventative measures to slow the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States.

But, other than impacts to public health, the virus is also posing a threat to one of South Dakota's larger industries.

With canceled flights from China into the U.S., preventative measures are being heavily emphasized.

As for, South Dakota, some are bracing for the impact this will have on travel and tourism.

Last year, the U.S. welcomed three million Chinese visitors.

The interest in South Dakota within China has grown.

Jim Hagen, Secretary of South Dakota Tourism, said, "The South Dakota Department of Tourism entered that market about three years ago. We're seeing a lot of interest, vast interest in Chinese travel in our state and our region of the country."

But with travel being halted from China into the U.S., the South Dakota travel and tourism department has followed suit with their social media presence.

Hagen said, "We have halted our social media efforts there until things have gotten to the point where our market representatives over in China tell us 'yeah now is a good time to resume that social media marketing and that social media interaction with potential Chinese visitors.'"

With no seeming light at the end of the tunnel in sight, those in the tourism department are bracing for impact.

"The bigger question is, you know again, how long will this last? Obviously the longer it goes on in terms of lack of travel, that definitely affects incomes, and jobs and revenue with everything else. But, we'll just see how this plays out. But, bottom line, no question this will have an impact," said Hagen.

Officials are hoping the international travel fears won't impact travel within the U.S.

Teri Schmidt, Executive Director for Sioux Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau said, "For right now it's business as usual. I say that again with us watching very closely as to what's going on. We encourage people to still keep us in their travel plans and we look forward to seeing everybody come on in."

Hagen said, "I would just really stress that in this point in time, there has been absolutely no edicts, no direction that we can't continue on with our travel indication plans."

The South Dakota Department of Tourism said that around 90% percent of U.S. travelers are still going through with planning their vacations.

They want to make it very clear that domestic travel is okay and safe to do.