Tourism numbers up during 2019

PIERRE, S.D. (WNAX) – The 2020 Governors Conference on Tourism wrapped up last week with a surprisingly positive report on last year’s visitation.

According to the annual study done by Tourism Economics, South Dakota welcomed 14.5 million visitors, an increase of 3.1 one percent. 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 percent over the previous year. This spending flowed through the economy and contributed $2.75 billion in GDP, accounting for 5.2 percent of the state’s economy. That was done despite early spring snow and major flooding.

State Tourism Department Secretary Jim Hagen says he saw some positive signs mid summer.

Hagen says they were able to make some quick adjustments to the states advertising campaigns.

Hagen says they focus in on visitor spending.

Hagen says the state’s messaging is now active 12 months a year. He says a major push this year will be into the Dallas market.