PIERRE, S.D. – Attendance at the 2008 Tourism Conference was up nearly 25% over 2007, setting a record for attendance since the conference began more than 20 years ago. The increase in attendance was due to the number of first-time attendees.
"It’s exciting to see so many new faces at the Tourism Conference, not to mention the record attendance," said Secretary Richard Benda, Department of Tourism and State Development. "It demonstrates the industry’s interest in the success of tourism in South Dakota, and their eagerness to help make our 2010 goals a reality."
Conference organizers attribute the high number of first-time attendees and record growth to high-quality speakers, a wide variety of session topics and increased promotion in the months leading up to the conference.
"This year, we really emphasized the significance of the conference as a networking and educational tool," said Director Melissa Bump, Office of Tourism. "It was encouraging to hear such positive reactions from the industry on everything from the nationally-recognized speakers and relevant sessions to the events that allowed everyone to network and share ideas."
As the year 2010 approaches, Bump said the Office of Tourism is looking forward to continued partnerships and success as an industry. "Being able to start the year with a successful, well-attended conference truly amplifies our excitement, and renews everyone’s enthusiasm."
The 2009 Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held January 21-22.
The Governor’s Conference on Tourism is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota.