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Study Captures Portrait of South Dakota Tourists

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PIERRE, S.D. – Visitors to South Dakota are taking longer vacations and spending more. These and other findings are highlighted in the South Dakota Office of Tourism’s 2006 Intercept Study. The study is the culmination of written surveys completed by more than 1,100 out of state travelers conducted at 13 different Interstate Information Centers across the state. The study examined the travel characteristics and profiles of tourists visiting South Dakota covering topics including where they came from, how long they were traveling, number of people traveling together, where they were planning to visit, and when they began planning their vacation. “The intercept study is an invaluable tool for the tourism industry of South Dakota,” said Billie Jo Waara, Director of the Office of Tourism. “This information allows us to better market our great state and deliver the right messages to our target audiences.” Some of the key findings in the study included: · Minnesota was home to the greatest percentage of South Dakota visitors, followed by Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan and California. · Travelers to South Dakota were taking longer vacations than they did in 2005. · Visitors to South Dakota spent over 20% more per day on their trip than they did in 2005 (2005 - $168.53 vs. 2006 - $215.52). · The average age of visitors to South Dakota was 54.9. · Visiting attractions was the #1 draw to the state. · The Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes Region was the primary destination. · Visitors began making their vacation plans earlier in the year than in the past. “Some of the most interesting things we found were that South Dakota’s visitor stats were inconsistent with national trends,” commented Waara. “The Travel Industry Association of America forecasted a year of relatively flat travel due to tight personal budgets, energy prices and other factors. However, despite these obstacles, travel expenditures in South Dakota were up from 2005, and visitors to South Dakota took longer vacations.” The 2006 Intercept Study strategy was directed by the Office of Tourism and is part of the 2010 Initiative goal to double visitor spending. To view the full study, visit The South Dakota Office of Tourism will release final tourism results in mid-January.