Governor Kristi Noem talks about the importance of tourism in South Dakota

Governor Kristi Noem was at Reptile Gardens Wednesday, to talk about why tourism is so important to the state.
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 6:36 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - For the Mount Rushmore State, tourism is the second largest industry, and National Travel and Tourism Week highlights its importance.

Last year, South Dakota saw a total of 14.4 Million visitors during the tourism season. Tourism doesn’t only benefit the state’s economy, it also impacts local businesses, like the Hotel Alex Johnson in downtown Rapid City.

“Tourism is super important to us. We love sharing our hotel and our history. But we also love sharing the Black Hills with them. They really do fall in love with South Dakota. Everyone here is so nice and so much fun to be around and I think for the most part we all embrace tourism,” Billi Raker, general manager for the Hotel Alex Johnson said.

Being that tourism is the second largest industry in our state, it accounts for almost 57,000 jobs, that’s one in every 11 jobs. Tourism businesses such as hotels and restaurants make up Rapid City’s largest employers according to Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender

“All Rapid City was, we were born on hospitality, and so we’ve been a destination location since around 1900, a long long time. So people come from all over the world to be here, and when they do, they want to be entertained and they want to go see the sites, the monuments, the other attractions,” Allender said.

The Black Hills area has quite a bit to offer, including hiking, museums, and state parks, and with South Dakota ranking in the top 20 of the friendliest states in America according to, there is always more to offer.

“People come to South Dakota because they want to have that kind of an experience, they want to have an experience that opens up the world to their eyes. And they recognize that we don’t just have great places here in our state, we’ve also got great faces,” said Governor Kristi Noem.

According to Travel South Dakota, late May through early September is the most popular time to visit the state, and many businesses have been preparing all year long.