Allender: Welcome the tourists
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Mayor Steve Allender of Rapid City has a simple message for summertime visitors: Welcome, tourists. And an equally simple message for Rapid City and Black Hills residents: Welcome the tourists.
At his weekly briefing on Wednesday, the Mayor urged local residents not to automatically assume that tourists are carrying the disease. “It’s not appropriate, or not fair, to assume that only infected tourists are going to come here,” he said.
At the same time, he urged visitors to treat the region with the same respect they would have for their home towns, “in terms of protecting the people you’re visiting from any illness you may be carrying, to practice social distancing, to be respectful of the home population.”
He acknowledged that tourists swell the area’s population during the summer, and said it would be naive to think that more people would not increase the potential for exposure.
Allender noted the importance of tourism to the health of the Rapid City and Black Hills economies. “It is up to all of us to let this tourist season happen,” he said. “Make the visit as safe and… fun as possible.
“They’re here because they have been cooped up in their homes just like all of us have been. And they want to get out and see one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and that is the Black Hills area of South Dakota. So let them come.”
The Mayor said he does expect this year’s tourist season to be later than usual. Instead of a traditional May through August season, Allender says it’s logical to think the season might be extended into September or even October.