South Dakota tourism industry reveals nine straight years of growth in 2018

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Big numbers came out of the State Capitol late January as the South Dakota Tourism reached record growth for 2018.

"I think that the push that the state and Visit Rapid City and the Black Hills Badlands and Tourism Association are doing really drove a lot of visitors here," said Logan Steffens, general manager at the Holiday Inn Rapid City Rushmore Plaza.

Visitor spending in South Dakota totaled $3.98 billion, an increase of 2.5 % in 2018.

Visitation grew to 14.1 million visitors, up 1.4% than the previous year.

With the average hotel occupancy at 58%, one manager says the Year of 2018 can be called a decent one.

"It was a great summer. A lot of people taking advantage and with more hotels going up, you know it's making rates a bit cheaper so it's a little bit more of a value proposition to come out and see Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands and the Black Hills," Steffens continued.

Tourism generated $298 million in state and local tax revenue. and without it, each household would pay an additional $865 more in taxes each year, according to a release from the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

"The targeted marketing, extensive media coverage, public relations outreach and the hard work of industry members all contributed to the success," said James Hagen, Secretary of the Department of Tourism in a release.

"A lot of competition in town which kinds of keeps everybody watching each other making sure that the prices are staying in a reasonable way but we did see a lot of those groups and associations on those last minute tourists come through," Steffens said.

In employment, nearly 55,000 jobs were sustained by the tourism industry in 2018, a whopping 8.9% of all South Dakota jobs.