Tourism industry businesses reflect on “record” summer returns

Tourism businesses are enjoying a record year and looking to wind down as another potential big year awaits while reservations are already coming in. 

BLACK HILLS, S.D. — The summer tourism season is big for businesses in the Black Hills.

This summer gave a lot of those businesses a needed shot in the arm for revenue.

Rapid City Regional Airport saw passenger numbers soar 11 percent, a record compared to past non-pandemic years. The growth was fueled by eight direct destinations that are designed to bring more travelers for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

“From our standpoint, the added flights that we had coming into the community for this tourist season, it really allowed us to have what was a a record summer season,” said Patrick Dame, the Executive Director of Rapid City Regional Airport.

Private campgrounds have been booked for months.

“We were sold out on RV full hookups and cabins and stuff in, like, in January probably, and then our electric sites like in water were all sold out there by the end of February,” said Rick Arneson, the Owner of Iron Horse Campground.

Even places like Custer State Park, which stayed about 300,000 visitors above its record attendance from last year.

That’s projected to continue through the end of the year as the park still sees crowds coming in and staying.

“Last year we saw about 58,000 night stays in Custer State Park and we’re up 2 percent in our camping overall so far through this year, so we’re expecting another record year and not only our visitation, but our at our camping nights as well,” said Kobee Stalder, the Visitor Services Program Manager for Custer State Park.

Tourism businesses are enjoying a record year and looking to wind down as another potential big year awaits while reservations are already coming in.

“I’m about all sold out on my RV full hookups and stuff right now for next year again,” Arneson said.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News