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South Dakota Tourism Industry Touts 10 Years of Growth, Reaches Record Numbers in 2019

PIERRE, S.D. –South Dakota’s tourism industry has grown again for the tenth straight year, reaching a record level of visitors, visitor spending and impact on the state’s economy.

According to the annual study done by Tourism Economics, South Dakota welcomed 14.5 million visitors, an increase of 3.1%. This is the highest growth percentage the state has experienced since 2014.

Visitors to South Dakota spent $4.1 billion, an increase of 2.8% over the previous year. This spending flowed through the economy and contributed $2.75 billion in GDP, accounting for 5.2% of the state’s economy.

Tourism in South Dakota is a job-creating, revenue-generating industry that plays a vital role in supporting the state’s economy year after year,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “It also has a much larger impact beyond visitor-spending dollars. These visitors fall in love with our state, and many of them decide to move here, start a business here, or retire in our great state.”

“Even with massive flooding and the adverse weather we faced in our state and the region, 2019 was a better year than we thought it was going to be,” said James Hagen, Secretary of the Department of Tourism. “The spring snowstorms, flooding, and a struggling ag economy did result in fewer visitors to our national and state parks, lower hotel occupancy in the Black Hills, and less revenue in certain communities.  However, that was balanced by the growth of other areas and businesses across the state.  At the end of the day, the resiliency of the tourism industry was on full display.”  

In 2019, tourism generated $308 million in state and local tax revenue. Without tourism in South Dakota, each household would pay an additional $890 more in taxes each year.

2019 Economic Impact Figures:

  • 14.5 million – The number of visitors that came to South Dakota, an increase of 3.1%
  • $4.1 billion – The amount of visitor spending, an increase of 2.8%
  • $110 million – The amount of visitor spending from international visitors
  • $2.75 billion – The amount of GDP contributed to the state’s economy, representing 5.2% of the South Dakota economy
  • $308 million – The state and local tax dollars generated by travel and tourism activity, an increase of $10 million
  • $172 million – amount of tax revenue collected by local governments from travel and tourism activity
  • $890 – the amount of tax dollars each South Dakota household saves because of the tourism industry
  • 55,157 – number of jobs supported by the tourism industry, 8.8% of all South Dakota jobs

Additional 2019 travel indicators:

  • 59% – average hotel occupancy for the year
  • 10.7 million – number of visitors to South Dakota’s state and national parks
  • 4.9 million – number of hotel room nights booked in 2019
  • 561,000 – number of room nights booked on AirBNB or Homeaway in 2019
  • 22,500 – estimated number of motor coaches that visited South Dakota in 2018 (based on 2019 report)
  • 857,000 – airport arrivals at Sioux Falls and Rapid City Regional Airports

To view the full 2019 Tourism Economics report, visit https://sdvisit.com/research-reports/economic-impact.

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