Tourism industry exploded during Independence Day weekend
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Black Hills saw a huge boost in visitors during the 4th of July weekend despite the rainy weather.
Julie Jensen, President of Visit Rapid City, said that attractions saw an increase of eight to nine percent during the holiday weekend alone.
Reptile Gardens saw an increase of 25 percent compared to its normal weekend crowds. Staff there say that this season has been the busiest on record for the past 20 years.
John Brockelsby said the park say over 3,000 people on both Saturday and Sunday. “A typical summer day might be 2000 people or over 2000 people,” Brockelsby said. “It was just crazy busy, and they were great people, we were having a great time”
Many factors contribute to seasonal visitation, like gas prices, the economy, and most recently the weather.
In early June tourism revenue was down ten percent. With record flooding and a delayed crop season, many families across the Midwest are without discretionary income.
Luckily, Jensen says that the warm weather is shifting the visitor season to the late summer and fall.
“We’re like lets put out money there, lets really market that part of the season and hope the weather is beautiful in April and May,” Jensen says. “It’s not that we ignore those months, we just put lighter emphasis on them.”
Industry leaders are hoping the weather will allow for a successful tourist season into the fall.