Laurie Folk, membership and finance director of the Milbank Area Chamber of Commerce, was in Pierre January 21-23 for the Great Faces – Great Places South Dakota Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Over 500 people attended; approximately 100 were first-time attendees.
South Dakota Secretary of Tourism James Hagen convened the event and speakers keyed in on topics ranging from human behavior and economics to marketing and promotional programs. Folk said, “There was a lot of brainstorming of ideas and reminders of gratitude for the opportunity to do the jobs we do.” Folk said she was excited to get back to Milbank to implement the new ideas.
Some of the things she learned included: Illinois is the state that sends the most visitors to South Dakota and China and Japan send the most international visitors. South Dakota now markets to both countries.
Other statistics compiled for South Dakota in 2019 by Tourism Economics, AirDNA, and the American Bus Association Foundation show:
14.5 million – Number of visitors, an increase of 3.1%
$4.1 billion – Visitor spending, an increase of 2.8%
$110 million – Spending from international visitors
$2.75 billion – Gross Domestic Product to S.D.’s economy, 5.2%
$308 million – State and local tax dollars generated by travel and tourism, an increase of $10 million
$172 million – Tax revenue collected by local governments from travel and tourism
$890 – Tax dollars each S.D. household saves because of the tourism industry
55,157 – Number of jobs supported by the tourism industry, 8.8% of all jobs in South Dakota