PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota’s "Twenty Bucks for the Road" campaign that captured national attention was one of two Office of Tourism campaigns that received awards from the National Council of State Tourism Directors. The Travel Industry Association’s Mercury Awards recognize excellence and creative accomplishment in state/territory tourism marketing.
The winners were announced at the prestigious ESTO (Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations) conference in Phoenix, Arizona, August 18, 2007. Members of the South Dakota Office of Tourism were on-hand to accept the awards.
There are 12 categories available for entry within the Mercury Awards, and South Dakota won two of the three categories entered. South Dakota won the awards for the best cooperative marketing effort with their 2006 Giant Step Cooperative Marketing Program and best marketing program for the "20 Bucks for the Road" promotion.
"These awards bring to light how important public-private partnerships are and our ability to effectively work together in highly creative ways to support one of the most important industries in the state," said Billie Jo Waara, director of the South Dakota Office of Tourism. "Given the enormous level of competition, the fact that the industry experts rewarded our efforts not once, but twice, is a credit to everyone involved."
The competition included nominations from all 50 states. South Dakota was also one of only two states to be honored with multiple awards.
"The real measure is how many people choose South Dakota as their vacation destination, and considering that we’ve consistently outpaced the national average, this is added validation of everyone’s efforts," said Waara.
The Mercury Awards are meant to: recognize excellence and creative accomplishments in tourism marketing and promotion by state; inspire the continued development of truly imaginative and exciting destination marketing and promotions programs; and showcase outstanding work.
The campaigns were developed in conjunction with the South Dakota Office of Tourism and their marketing agency, Lawrence & Schiller. The campaigns were 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.