Black Hills tourist businesses recognized for efforts

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 11:31 AM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - South Dakota businesses in the tourism industry got the spotlight as Gov. Kristi Noem awarded them for their impact on Thursday in Pierre.

Even in a pandemic, South Dakota’s tourism department welcomed 12.6 million visitors in 2020, a decrease of 13% from the year before. Visitors spent $3.4 billion, which was down 18%, but nationwide states saw an average decline of 45%.

“Every state’s tourism industry was negatively impacted this past year by the pandemic, but in South Dakota, we were able to weather the storm much better than our neighboring states,” Noem said.

Because tourism is a vital part of South Dakota’s economy, the Department of Tourism takes time to award them for their hospitality, innovation and passion.

“South Dakota is known for warm and welcoming hospitality, and it’s folks like these that have given our state that reputation,” said Noem. “Their heart, passion and commitment to service don’t go unnoticed, and I am thankful for their tireless work.”

Here are the Black Hills business and individuals Noem recognized:

Susan Johnson of Deadwood was honored with the Ben Black Elk Award for her work as the state’s first Secretary of the Department of Tourism. Most notably, she pushed for the Mickelson Trail and was involved in creating South Dakota’s slogan, “Great Faces, Great Places.”

Visit Rapid City’s Lindsey Myers was one of four recipients of the Ruth Ziolkowski Outstanding Hospitality and Customer Service Award. She was recognized for her service to visitors and having a spirit of hospitality.

Big Thunder Gold Mine in Keystone is known for its hospitality, according to Noem, which is why it was awarded the George S. Mickelson Award. The award recognizes excellence in customer service.

“Big Thunder Gold Mine’s motto is to always look at the positive and make every day something you will always remember,” said Noem. “Their hospitality and passion for the industry radiates throughout their surrounding communities and the people they serve.”

Another Keystone destination, Rush Mountain Adventure Park, got recognized for its innovation and received the Peter Norbeck Excellence in Tourism Industry Innovation Award. Prairie Berry Winery and Miner Brewing Company also got the award.

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