SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota continues to get the attention of the public as roughly 14.7 million visitors spent nearly $5 billion ($4.97B) here in 2023. Travel South Dakota will be seeking even more attention during this year’s Super Bowl. The tourism department will air a 30-second commercial to regional markets on Feb. 11.
“We’re really, really excited about it,” Travel South Dakota Secretary Jim Hagen told KELO.
The ad will be broadcast in the regional markets of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver, Omaha, Kansas City and Des Moines. Hagen said the 30-second ad will tell the viewer that South Dakota is more than a “one hit wonder” and use a popular band in the state that had a successful single in the 1990s. It’s inspired by the 2023 tourism marketing campaign of “So Much South Dakota, So Little Time.”
“I think in 2023, a 30-second (national commercial) was selling for $7 million. Obviously we can’t afford that,” Hagen said.
The department took advantage of the regional approach, Hagen said. The regions that are the focus of the Super Bowl ad have sent many visitors to South Dakota.
“We’re still very much a drivable market,” Hagen said.
Over the past several years, domestic visitors have accounted for about 90% of the state’s visitors. But increased flights to and from South Dakota, especially in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, indicate domestic visitors aren’t just driving to the state. The 14.7 million visitors in 2023 is an increase of about 300,000 from 2022. It’s the most since 2019, the pre-pandemic traveling year when 14.5 million people visited the state. The 14.7 million is about two million more than visited South Dakota in 2013. That year 12.8 million people visited the state.
The number of annual visitors has been steadily climbing from 2013 on until the hiccup COVID-19 pandemic year of 2020. The department and its partners at the regional and local level work very hard at marketing the state and region to potential visitors, Hagen said. Families and retired couples have always been a focus of tourism marketing, he said.
“The third area in recent years is young couples who don’t have children,” Hagen said.
All three groups of visitors come to South Dakota for the great outdoors but the state appeals in many ways including its history and culinary options, Hagen said. While they are in the state, they spend billions of dollars including the roughly $5 billion spent in 2023. In 2013, visitors spent about $3.5 billion in the state.
Inflation has a role in some of the increased spending, especially in the past two years, Hagen said. Inflation isn’t the only reason for the increased spending as more visitors mean more money spent. In 2023, for example, the increase in visitor spending exceeded the inflation rate, Hagen said.
Visitors spent about 15 cents of each dollar in 2023 on recreation. They spent about 22 cents on food and beverage and the same amount on transportation. Another 21 cents was spent on retail while 19 cents was spent on lodging. The money spent on gas or a meal and similar helps fuel the state’s economy.
Travel South Dakota said tourism generated $384 million in state and local tax revenue in 2023. It has generated more than $300 million in state and local tax revenue since 2019. The 2018 amount was $298 million. It was $291 million in 2017.
All that revenue has an impact on households. Without the tourism industry, individual households would have paid an additional $1,040 in taxes in 2023, according to Travel South Dakota. As the number of visitors and money spent has increased since 2013 so has the tax impact on individual households.
The tourism dollars also create and maintain jobs. Katlyn Svendsen, the global public relations and content services senior director, said nearly 58,000 jobs were supported by tourism in 2023. The industry generates about $2.2 billion in household income, she said.
The Super Bowl ad is one piece in the marketing approach. The department continues to work with its international partners to increase those visitors to the state, Hagen said. All visitors are encouraged to check out the entire state, Hagen said.
The department also continues to work with partners who can offer visitors opportunities to explore and learn. The department launched a tribally-led Native American tourism initiative with partners on tribal lands in 2023. The campaign was in June and July and resulted in 5.6 billion impressions on social media, Svendsen said. The initiative resulted in 14,000 hotel bookings and 360 flights, she said.
The upcoming Super Bowl ad will have its 30-seconds on regional broadcasts but also an extended life on social media. A 60-second version will be available on department tourism sites.