2019 A Record-Setting Tourism Year For SD

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota’s tourism industry grew for the tenth straight year in 2019, setting new records for visitors, visitor spending, and impact on the state’s economy.

According to the annual study done by Tourism Economics, the state welcomed 14.5 million visitors, an increase of 3.1% – the biggest growth percentage the state has experienced since 2014.

Visitor spending grew 2.8% to $4.1-billion dollars, money that flowed through the economy with a ripple impact of $2.75-billion, accounting for 5.2% of the state’s economy and supporting more than 55,000 jobs – 8.8% of all jobs in South Dakota.

Tourism also generated $308-million in state and local taxes, cutting the tax burden for each household in the state by $890.

Governor Kristi Noem says the numbers are even more remarkable because they came despite last year’s severe weather and record flooding.

Noem calls tourism in South Dakota “a job-creating, revenue-generating industry that plays a vital role in supporting the state’s economy year after year.”

She also sees a long-term impact because many visitors wind up falling in love with South Dakota and decide to move, start a business or retire in the state.

Tourism Secretary James Hagen says the weather and flooding did result in fewer visitors to national and state parks, lower hotel occupancy in the Black Hills, and less revenue in other communities but those losses were offset by growth in other areas.

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