Businesses owners talk tourism at Travel Rally

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - On Tuesday business owners from around the Black Hills and Badlands met up to talk tourism.

The Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association is kicking off the summer tourism season with Travel Rally Day.

Throughout the day, key players in the tourism industry attended seminars and swapped literature with each other.

Michelle Thomson, president, Black Hills & Badlands Tour Association, says, "This provides a great opportunity for different businesses to be able to talk to each other, to learn things that are working for them, learn about things that maybe they could be doing differently but also to learn about what's new with their businesses so when they're talking to visitors at their own business they can cross-sell the different businesses and get people to stay in the area longer."

Thomson says tourism is a major pillar in South Dakota's economy.

Michelle Thomson says, "Tourism is incredibly important to the Black Hills and Badlands region. In 2018, we had visitor spending of about $1.5 billion and that generated jobs in the Black Hills area of over 18,000."

Some attendees included the U.S. Forest Service, Reptile Gardens, and the Homestake Opera House.

About 100 visitor-related groups participate every year to network and learn about each other's businesses.

Lyndy Ireland, innkeeper, Triangle Ranch Bed & Breakfast, says, "I've been coming for 23 years. I wouldn't miss it because it's a great social time and we can distribute our materials to all the visitor centers. Many of these people are my friends now. We're all in this together to showcase South Dakota to I love to do it."

The event ended with food and drinks at the Travel Rally celebration.