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‘I’m pretty darn optimistic:’ Looking forward to 2021 tourism season

From hiking in the Black Hills to driving through the Badlands, South Dakota’s outdoor opportunities brought 2020 tourists and the state tourism board thinks 2021 will be the same.
Published: Jan. 17, 2021 at 12:32 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Because of the pandemic, most people thought one of South Dakota’s top industries would take a huge hit in 2020. However, people from across the country flocked to the state for outdoor, social distancing vacations. A new year and a vaccine mean a fresh start for the tourism season.

From hiking in the Black Hills to driving through the Badlands, South Dakota’s outdoor opportunities brought 2020 tourists and the state tourism board thinks 2021 will be the same.

“There’s so many contingencies and we certainly hope that we’ll be back to more of a sense of normalcy with this COVID things,” said John Brockelsby, a member of the state tourism board. “But you know, people they really do want to travel and South Dakota, the whole state, and the Black Hills are certainly wonderful places because there’s so much to do outside.”

Brockelsby, whose family started one of Rapid City’s tourist attractions, Reptile Gardens, said he and the staff at the unique zoo are ready to bring back the things people know and love about the park; things missing in 2020.

“We’ll be opening the first Saturday in March but starting Memorial Day weekend,” said Brockelsby, the public relations manager for Reptile Gardens. “We’re hoping that things are under control at that time that we’ll be able to have our snake show going again, our pet a python, pet Fluffy the baby gator, some of these things that we had to curtail last year.”

Like Reptile Gardens, Brockelsby said businesses and organizations across the state are gearing up for a new tourism season.

“The department of tourism, the Visit Rapid City folks, the Badlands Association, they all have great marketing plans in place for this coming year and I’m pretty darn optimistic,” said Brockelsby. “I think we’re going to have a good season and hopefully, we’ll leave all of this other crap in the rearview mirror.”

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