The record-breaking pace continues for South Dakota’s tourism industry – even with high inflation raising gas prices for visitors to our state. We recently rounded up Custer State Park’s famous buffalo herd (although I didn’t get to ride in the Buffalo Roundup this year like I normally do). The event drew another 20,000 attendees from across the country and around the globe. It was a perfect capstone to another record-breaking tourism season.
So far in 2022, South Dakota is on track to break records for visitor spending. Total spending this year-to-date is above last year’s record-breaking pace – and by more than inflation. Given that last year’s visitor spending was $4.4 billion, that is an incredible accomplishment.
But the records don’t stop there. We’ve had more night stays in South Dakota hotels and short-term rentals than ever before. And visitation to Mount Rushmore is up another 4% over last year’s record. The Sioux Falls Regional Airport reported all-time passenger traffic records in both July and August.
Despite the Biden Administration’s crushing inflation, visitors are still finding a way to make the trip to South Dakota. Tourism numbers are largely down across the country this year, which makes South Dakota’s record-breaking pace all the more impressive!
We must remember that tourism is our state’s 2nd largest industry. When tourism thrives, our state does well. And tourism has been thriving for years now because of South Dakota’s respect for Freedom, our unique approach to the COVID pandemic, and our emphasis on telling our story to the rest of the country.
So, what can we expect in the final months of 2022? As I traveled throughout the Black Hills this past week in preparation for the Buffalo Roundup, I had the opportunity to stop at many tourism-related shops and businesses. They all were reporting strong visitation and spending through the Fall.
Moreover, pheasant hunting season is literally just days away, and our pheasant numbers are looking like some of our best in recent years. This certainly bodes well for ending our tourism year on a very positive note.
South Dakotans can take pride in the fact that our state offers an endless variety of things to see and do. We have beautiful landscapes, pristine state & national parks, and the nation’s Shrine to Democracy. Visitors can experience our pioneer, Native American, and Old West cultures. These are just a few of the reasons South Dakota is still the perfect place to experience a world-class vacation.
But above all else, visitors are coming to South Dakota because we cherish our freedoms – and we love to share that with our visitors! Our friendly people are still our best ambassadors, and they make a visitor’s time in our state extra special.
Join me in continuing to support our robust tourism industry. Let’s welcome and encourage every visitor to experience the Great Faces and Great Places of South Dakota.