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South Dakota’s Faces of Travel


PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Tourism is aligning with the U.S. Travel Association and several communities, chambers and CVBs from across the state to celebrate National Travel and Tourism week, May 7-13.

This year’s theme, “Faces of Travel,” shines a spotlight on the power of travel by recognizing the millions of people who keep the tourism industry strong.

“This theme allows us to shine a light on the South Dakotans that have a real impact on keeping our tourism industry strong,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “Our state is full of men and women who excel at making our visitors feel welcome and make our industry the best in the region.”

Nationwide, the tourism industry supports the livelihoods of more than 15 million Americans.  Within South Dakota, the visitor economy sustained a total of 53,258 jobs, or 9.5 percent of all jobs in the state.

“This week is the week our industry officially kicks off the peak travel season, but it’s much more than that” said Jim Hagen, Secretary of the Department of Tourism. “This week is about celebrating and recognizing the many faces in South Dakota who make the visitor experience unique and memorable. Time and time again, consumers are sending their praises to us for the outstanding customer service and hospitality that is displayed in our state. There is no one more important to our tourism industry than those working one-on-one with our visitors. This week, we celebrate these faces.”

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is honoring nine ‘Faces of Travel’ next week. These members of the tourism industry were nominated by other community members as people who do an outstanding job with ensuring positive interactions with visitors.

  • Fred Baumann, Information Associate, Custer Area Chamber of Commerce, Custer
  • Bruce Cull, President, National Field Archery Association, Yankton
  • Tony DeMaro, Managing Partner, Murphy’s Pub & Grill & Blind Lion, Rapid City
  • Lora Martin, Visitor Information Center Supervisor, Hill City Chamber of Commerce, Hill City
  • Sandi McLain, Owner, Big Thunder Gold Mine, Keystone
  • Geraldine Ray, Tour Guide, State Capitol Building, Pierre
  • Jane Riedl, Front Desk Supervisor, Best Western Ramkota Hotel, Rapid City
  • Thea Miller Ryan, Director, The Outdoor Campus, Sioux Falls
  • Brianna Schmidt, Marketing Coordinator, Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls
  • Jeff VanMeeteren, Regional Park Manager, Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, Yankton
  • Casey Weismantel, Executive Director, Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Aberdeen

“These are just a few of South Dakota’s ‘Faces of Travel,’” said Daugaard. “Our state is full of men and women who excel at making our visitors feel welcome. They work to make this industry the best in the region and believe that creating a good visitor experience is the responsibility of all of us.”

National Travel and Tourism Week is in its 34th year and an annual acknowledgment of the impact of travel on the United States, states, regions and cities. During the first full week in May each year, communities nationwide unite to showcase the impact of travel.

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.


  • Please see the media profiles as a starting point for contact information, backgrounds and photo assets on each ‘Face of Travel’ that the Department of Tourism is highlighting May 7-13.
  • Drafted Tweets for media use:
    • @SouthDakota is celebrating the #FacesofTravel this National Travel and Tourism Week. #nttw17
    • The travel industry fuels @SouthDakota’s economy, supporting 53,258 jobs. Follow along as we highlight the #FacesofTravel. #nttw17
    • This week we celebrate #nttw17 by rallying for the #FacesofTravel who bolster @SouthDakota’s travel industry. Follow along. #FacesofTravel


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