PIERRE, S.D. – Families and vacationers are showing a greater interest in making South Dakota their destination location and preliminary car counts at visitor centers across the state show a 10% increase over last year.
Inquiries from mail, phone and the Web for the peak summer tourism season are up dramatically over 2006 at a total of 17.5% during the March through June time frame. In addition, year-to-date inquiries have increased 11.3%.
“Our enhanced marketing efforts and increased online presence, combined with a consistent marketing message over the past years, have successfully attracted people and given them what they’re looking for,” said Billie Jo Waara, director of the South Dakota Office of Tourism. “These numbers are especially rewarding when placed in context of the national forecast of a 5.3% increase in travel.”
Across the state, the visitor industry has reported a strong first half of the peak summer travel season.
“In the Southeastern region, we’ve had a great summer tourism season. Our web inquiries are up 50% over last years’ numbers and we’re seeing double the response to advertisements,” said Jacquie Fuks, executive director of the Southeast South Dakota Tourism Association. “We’ve been working hard to show tourists what we have to offer and that it’s okay to travel. We’ve discovered that even with high gas prices, people are still choosing to travel; they’re just planning more efficiently.”
Visitor inquiry research and reporting is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.