Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station
Black Hills Area sees strong tourism in 2023.
courtesy NPS

Black Hills Area sees strong tourism in 2023

STURGIS, S.D. – South Dakota tourism officials say the industry continues to rebound after the pandemic.

That’s according to an economic impact report from the 2023 travel season.

Christopher Pike is the Tourism Economics’ Director of Impact Studies. He said the report proves the resiliency of the state’ tourism industry.

“People want to travel. Even after the pandemic, we’ve been saying even with the pandemic, people were saying it’s going to change travel, no. People want to travel, they want to go out and experience the world. They want to go see events, they want to travel with their kids and do the sporting events and things like that,” said Pike. “So people still want to travel, that is, frankly, a fact.”

Data for the study is collected based on sales tax revenue, employment and wage levels, state park data, and physical location of visitors.

Pike said the state shows sustainable economic growth.

The Black Hills & Badlands region is the 2nd largest region of the state, measured by visitor spending, with 38.6% of all visitor sales.  Visitor spending in the region surpassed the state in 2023, following a slower growth year for the region in 2022.

Regional spending is dominated by Pennington and Lawrence County with Lawrence County’s share increasing past 30% in 2023.

Meade County saw a total of $56.1 million dollars in visitor spending last year with Lawrence County saw $592.3 million. Of Meade County’s $56 million, $6.2 million was state and local tax revenue.

Tourism spending doesn’t need to be big to be important to the local communities: Fall River, Jones, and Jackson Counties all have more than 10% of their employment supported by tourism despite capturing less than 5% of all spending in the region.

You  can see the full report here: 2023 Tourism Visitor Spending Report

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