South Dakota 2020 tourism declined, but industry optimistic

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The Department of Tourism says a reduction in visitors and tourism income broke a 10-year streak of industry growth last year. According to an annual study by Tourism Economics released Thursday, the number of visitors to the state dropped by 13% to 12.6 million people in 2020. But the state fared better than others during the pandemic and the industry’s annual two-day conference in Pierre was marked with optimism.

Attendees praised Gov. Kristi Noem for keeping the state open for business during the pandemic and not imposing many restrictions. Visitors to South Dakota spent $3.4 billion last year, a decline of 18% from 2019.