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Tourism Department Posts Record Numbers in 2016


Industry Attains Seven Straight Years of Growth

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota tourism industry has once again reached record numbers of visitors, visitor spending and impact on the state’s economy. This marks seven straight years of economic growth for the industry.

According to a new study by Tourism Economics, visitor spending reached $3.8 billion in 2016, contributing $2.5 billion i​n GDP to South Dakota’s economy, an increase of 4.5 percent. These dollars flow through the South Dakota economy, supporting more than 53,000 jobs and generating more than $279 million in state and local tax revenue.

“In 2016 we found that the combination of effective, targeted marketing, low gas prices, landmark anniversaries and expanded media coverage played a significant role in increasing visitation and ultimately, visitor spending,” said James Hagen, Secretary of the Department of Tourism. “With this growth, the tourism industry helped support the state’s economy during a year when other sectors were seeing a decline.”

2016 economic impact stats (percent increases are over 2015)*:

  • 13.9 million – number of visitors that came to South Dakota, an increase of 1.4 percent
  • $3.8 billion – amount of visitor spending, which is an increase of 1.5 percent
  • $2.5 billion – amount of GDP contributed to the state’s economy, which is an increase of 4.5 percent
  • $279 million – state and local tax dollars generated by travel and tourism activity, an increase of $8.4 million
  • $821 – the amount of tax dollars each South Dakota household saves because of the tourism industry
  • 53,258 – number of jobs sustained by the tourism industry, an increase of 2.1 percent

Additional 2016 travel indicators:

  • 60 percent – average hotel occupancy for the year
  • 5.1 million – number of visitors to South Dakota’s national parks, an increase of 19 percent
  • 140,000  - additional visitors to our state parks in 2016, which brought in $1.3 million in additional revenue
  • $27.3 million – amount of advertising value earned through domestic and international public relations efforts in fiscal year 2016
  • 4.6 billion – number of impressions earned through domestic and international public relations efforts in fiscal year 2016

To view the full Tourism Economics report, visit

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


*Source: Tourism Economics



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