KEYSTONE, S.D. — Tourism is the second largest industry in the state of South Dakota.
Governor Kristi Noem spoke Monday at Mount Rushmore and highlighted how well the state did despite being in a pandemic.
Gov. Noem said, “12.6 million people spent their vacation in South Dakota last year, that’s how many visitors that we had. The tourism industry supports almost 50 thousand jobs in South Dakota. And the rest of the country while they were shut down South Dakota stayed open and we continued to welcome people here to our great state.”
Officials say tourism brought in over 276 million dollars worth of state and local taxes in 2020, which then helped residents of the state save money on their taxes.
“Those taxes that they paid when they came to the state when they visited and spent their money in our restaurants and purchasing our souvenirs and staying in our hotels saved each and every South Dakota family 780 dollars in taxes,” Noem said.
And with more people choosing to social distance outdoors, the state saw an increased number of visitors to parks, monuments, and other attractions last year.
Custer State Park alone saw over two million visitors last year, and this year is on pace to be another record.
Noem said, “Our web traffic already for this year is up 55% over last year which is incredible. That means while people came here in droves and set records last year, even more are going to be coming in 2021.”
And hoping to attract the next generation of travelers, State Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen says accommodations for electric vehicles are next on the list.
“There are several grant programs that are out there available to different entities throughout the state, especially as they relate to electric vehicles. So its on our radar, we have a new strategic planning process that’s coming up here literally in weeks. This is one of the areas we are going to address over the next three years.”