Tourism up in 2019, revenue lifts businesses across state

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Tourism in South Dakota continues to flourish, in 2019 the state reached a record number of visitors.

The state welcomed 14.5 million visitors, which is a little over three percent of an increase from previous years.

It’s the most visitors we’ve had since 2014.

This boom was quite the boost for local economy with visitors spending over $4 billion while they were here.

A hard hitter in Rapid City, hotels.

“Demand for hotel rooms is up four percent, but we have new properties that opened so there are more hotel rooms to fill,” said Julie Jensen, Visit Rapid City.

Many travelers reach Rapid City by plane, contributing to airport revenue.

“It’s the third year in a row where we’ve broken passenger records,” said Toni Broom, Deputy Airport Director. “This year we had a total passenger number of 705,126 people. That’s almost 13% over last year, so that’s pretty exciting news.”

Assisting in these numbers were direct flights added in 2019, Rapid City Regional Airport announced summer flights that go directly to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Phoenix.

“We have a master plan that had actually forecasted these numbers we wouldn’t achieve until the year 2030, so we’ve actually surpassed that quite quickly,” said Broom.

Tourist spending accounted for 5.2% of the state’s economy this past year. Officials say more than 55,000 jobs are supported by the tourism industry or 8.8% of all South Dakota jobs.

“I do see us focusing a lot on building the tourism industry and marketing our state and making sure we’re aggressive in that area,” said Gov. Kristi Noem. “So I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to see growth in that area.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News