PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – The State of South Dakota spent about $1.5 million dollars on security, transportation, and pyrotechnics for last week’s fireworks show and presidential speech at Mount Rushmore, but state Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen says the economic benefits far exceeded the cost.
Hagen says by the most conservative methods, the state got more than $22-million dollars in free publicity, thanks to the global media coverage. He bases the figure on advertising value equivalency, and thinks it’s probably low because several networks that broadcast the speech, the show, or both had historically high ratings.
The Dept of Tourism also estimates $2 million in direct visitor spending for the event, which translates to an estimated $160,000 in immediate tax revenues to state and local governments.
Hagen says the “goal with the fireworks celebration was to put a spotlight on the grandeur of Mount Rushmore National Memorial and position South Dakota front and center in the minds of potential visitors” – adding that the state “couldn’t be happier about the tens of millions of viewers who tuned in.”
Web traffic to South Dakota pages skyrocketed during the celebration. Hagen says Google searches for “Mount Rushmore” reached an all-time high 1,250% higher than the previous record while the state Tourism Dept saw its web traffic jump872% from last 4th of July
Hagen says he’s confident the exposure from the fireworks show “will inspire viewers to add the Great Faces and Great Places of South Dakota to their bucket list of vacation destinations, whether that be yet this year or in the years to come.”