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South Dakota Travel Monitoring System Shows Positive Results

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PIERRE, S.D. – The overall number of visitors coming to South Dakota is steadily increasing, as highlighted in a recent report of the South Dakota Travel Monitoring System (SDTMS).

The SDTMS is maintained by Black Hills State University’s Center for Tourism Research. Each year, the Center compiles a report of travel activity in South Dakota from the months of January through November that summarizes information such as lodging overnight stays and state park attendance.

“The SDTMS is an important barometer in understanding travel activity in South Dakota,” said Billie Jo Waara, Director of the Office of Tourism. “There were both increases and decreases, and being able to look at the social, economic and weather conditions included in the report gives us context and perspective as to the results.”

Some of the key findings in the report included: 

  • Statewide, lodging overnight stays were up 2.3% in 2006 over 2005 
  • Lodging occupancy rates were up 1.1% in 2006 over 2005 
  • State park attendance was up 0.8% 
  • Aggregate attractions attendance was down 3.2% 
  • Rural highway traffic volume was down 1% 
  • Gas prices were up 13.8% from January – November, and 26.7% from June – August

“A surprising find was that some areas of South Dakota saw an increase in travel activity despite a few discouraging factors,” commented Waara. “As gas prices rose and the summer of 2006 proved to be hotter and drier than previous years, overall state park attendance and lodging occupancy rates increased.”

The 2006 SDTMS report was compiled by Black Hills State University’s Center for Tourism Research and directed by the Office of Tourism. The report is part of the 2010 Initiative goal to double visitor spending.