PIERRE (AP) – South Dakota tourism officials there are indications the summer tourist season is shaping up to be a strong one following a year of limited travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Traffic on the state's tourism website is “through the roof” and tracking 55% ahead of last year, according to Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen.
In addition, the Department of Tourism's vacation guide has been downloaded at record numbers, electronic newsletter subscriptions are up 29% and referrals from tourism partners have increased 40% this year, the Rapid City Journal reported.
Tourism is one of South Dakota's top industries and generated about $3 billion in spending last year, down from a record $4 billion in 2019. Hagen says the industry employs about 55,000 workers and brings more than a billion into their households.
Canyon Lake Resort in Rapid City is experiencing more activity this spring than ever before, according to owner Mike Derby.
“People are ready to come to the Black Hills. We’re all booked up, and we’re always very full during the summer,” he said.
Canyon Lake Resort is on the western shore of Canyon Lake and has easy access to trails and walking and bike paths as well as lakes and camping areas.
“The biggest growth is in outdoor adventure. There’s really becoming a big business for tourism in the Black Hills,” Derby said.
The state had a record-breaking 14 million visitors in 2019, according to tourism officials.