Group Tours Important to South Dakota’s Economy
PIERRE, S.D. – A fully loaded motorcoach, an average of 46 passengers, on a charter or tour making an overnight stop contributes an average of $5,000 to $7,500 per day to the local economy, according the American Bus Association. They eat, shop, visit attractions and sleep, all contributing to the economy.
A total of 631 motorcoach tours stopped at South Dakota’s Interstate Information Centers in 2004, an increase of 12.1 percent over 2003. Most of these tours stayed for at least one day. Using the ABA’s spending estimate, these tours had a minimum impact of $3.2 million on South Dakota’s economy last year.
Of these 631 tours, nearly 20 percent were international tours. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, visitors from outside the United States spend five times as much time and five times as much money while visiting the United States than domestic visitors.
Europeans have, on average, five weeks of government mandated vacation time plus up to 16 annual paid public holidays. International guests are more likely to visit during “shoulder” seasons (off-peak travel times) than domestic travelers, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. Many international guests are more willing to visit “off-the-beaten-path” rural attractions and destinations. International guests enhance the visitor experience for domestic visitors and create additional perceived value.
The Rapid City Regional Airport showed significant increases in 2002-2004 in international travel. Top international arrivals to Rapid City were from Germany, followed by the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, France and Norway.