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2017 Governor’s Conference on Tourism “Builds for the Future”


PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Governor’s Conference on Tourism, hosted by the Department of Tourism, encourages visitor industry professionals to come and be inspired to “Build for the Future” next week, Jan. 17-19, in Pierre.

“The annual conference is a time that both the industry and our staff greatly look forward to each year. This year, we’re encouraging everyone to not only get excited about the visitor experience in South Dakota, but to also find ways to improve it for future,” said James Hagen, Secretary of the Department of Tourism. “We want to be looking forward and finding ways to make our state, our businesses and our attractions as appealing, welcoming and memorable as possible.”

The annual conference brings nearly 600 people from across South Dakota and the United States together in Pierre to celebrate successes, network with peers and educate themselves on trends in the travel and hospitality business. Nationally recognized speakers and industry experts are brought in from across the country to share their expertise in specialized categories and speak on topics ranging from customer service training to marketing trends and research.

The closing banquet, held Thursday, Jan. 19, honors and recognizes industry leaders. The following awards will be presented:

  • The Ben Black Elk Award recognizes an individual or group whose passion and enthusiasm have greatly influenced South Dakota’s visitor industry.
  • The A.H. Pankow Award recognizes a member of the media whose coverage and promotion of the state’s visitor industry are unparalleled.
  • The George S. Mickelson Great Service Award honors two businesses/organizations— one corporate and one non-corporate — that show an outstanding dedication to excellence in customer service.
  • The Excellence in Tourism Innovation Award honors an industry member for thinking “outside the box” when it comes to promoting their business and elevating the visitor’s experience.
  • The Rooster Rush Cacklin’ Community Award honors an industry organization for fostering community-level support of the Department of Tourism’s fall Rooster Rush campaign.

For more information about the conference, or to register, visit

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The Department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen.


Media notes:

A downloadable graphic representing the theme for the conference is available here:


Katlyn Richter, Global Media & Public Relations Director
South Dakota Department of Tourism
Phone: 605-773-3301