Rain or shine: tourists continue to travel to South Dakota

Summer tourism season started off a little sluggish.
Published: Jul. 11, 2023 at 11:41 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - In 2022, a total of 14.4 million people visited South Dakota, spending $4.7 billion.

This year was anticipated to bring in slightly more tourists than in 2022. However, with the rainy weather, one destination saw a small decline in numbers.

“Tourism season did start off somewhat slow, we were a little bit down for the first half of June. Although the second half of June and now into July has been up or right on par with last year’s numbers,” said David Yahne, curator of horticulture, Reptile Gardens.

Regardless of whether it rains or shines, Reptile Gardens is able to keep its doors open.

“The beauty about Reptile Gardens is that we do have basically half indoor and half outdoors. Luckily our alligator show and our snake show are both under-covered canopies. There’s been many times where there’s been rainstorms moving through and they’ll still do the gator show out in the rain. The guests are nice and protected, but we get a little wet,” said Yahne.

According to the National Library of Medicine, climate conditions can affect tourism directly with destinations, repeat visits, and overall experience.

However, Old MacDonald’s Farm, located just a few miles from Reptile Gardens, has seen an increase in visitors this year regardless of the weather.

“It’s been pretty good still, we’re beating last year. The rain mostly just cools off the day, so it doesn’t really chase anybody away because it usually dries out,” said Kylee Goehring, assistant manager, Old MacDonald’s Farm.

Both locations are currently open to the public.