Tourism gets slow start but looks to end strong in South Dakota

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Labor Day weekend has come and gone and while many head back to work or school, tourists are still coming out to the Black Hills. A late start to the tourist season may be cancelled out by a bigger finale.

Tourism brings millions of people and billions of dollars to the Black Hills. The season, kicking off in may, usually gets going in June – except when the weather gets in the way.

“Well the tourism season started off slow, actually not kinda slow, really slow,” said Gwyn Wathen, Marketing Director of Mt. Rushmore KOA Resort.

“The blizzards in may and the rain in June and even into July it really impacted our numbers,” said Julie Jensen, Present/CEO of VISIT Rapid City.

Once the skies cleared, the numbers started to turn around.

“We’re sitting about flat,” said Wathen. “We’re a little down, we’re down almost two percent right now but with a strong fall but if we finish flat or a little up we’ll be thrilled.”

VISIT Rapid City reporting a slight positive, just half a percent, but they’re looking forward to the coming months.

“We’re starting to see the fall become our really strong month anyway or strong season,” said Jensen.

According to Jensen, tourists flock to the Black Hills in September and October more and more every year. Both affordability of hotels and cooler temperatures play into that plus an increased number of events like the Buffalo Round Up, Black Hills Powwow and more.

“The people that visit us the most come from the Midwest…and a lot of our visitors were having problems this year,” said Jensen.

So even when weather in the Black Hills is cooperating, weather around the country is something to watch for tourism back home.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News