You are here

Tourism Industry Leaders & Innovators Honored for Their Work


PIERRE, S.D. – Lt. Gov. Matt Michels and the South Dakota Department of Tourism presented awards to top tourism industry leaders Thursday evening at the 2017 Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Pierre.

The A. H. Pankow Award, which honors a media outlet or individual member of the media for unparalleled coverage and promotion of the state’s visitor industry, was awarded to South Dakota Public Broadcasting. The organization has continuously produced programming that has focused on the unique beauty and culture of South Dakota including shows like “Soaring South Dakota” and “Savor Dakota,” a new program that looks at South Dakota’s food, wine and brew offerings.

“We are thankful for South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s passion and continuous promotion of our state’s history, arts, destinations and way of life,” stated the Lt. Governor.

The George S. Mickelson Great Service Awards were given to The Saloon #10/Deadwood Social Club in Deadwood and to the Quality Inn & Suites in Watertown. This award honors businesses, communities or organizations that have done an exemplary job of exceeding visitors’ expectations in customer service.

“These businesses believe in involving staff members in all phases of planning, development and execution and they empower their employees to take care of customers immediately and effectively,” the Lt. Governor said. “By creating positive experiences within the cultures of their organizations, they prove they are willing to go above and beyond to take care of our visitors as well.”

The Excellence in Tourism Innovation Award honors an industry partner for thinking “outside the box” when it comes to making their business, attraction or destination even more appealing to their visitors. The award was given to the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, in recognition of their innovative ideas and promotions to elevate their visitors’ experiences during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

“The team at the Buffalo Chip exemplifies the theme of ‘Building for the Future’ and innovative ideas,” said the Lt. Governor. “The continuous improvements and expansions the Buffalo Chip has made at its property show the commitment to the guests, their comfort and the importance of the visitor experience while in South Dakota and at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.”

The Rooster Rush Cacklin' Community Award, in its eighth year, went to the Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau for the community’s level of support of the Tourism Department’s fall Rooster Rush campaign. Members of the Aberdeen business community decorated their businesses, and the CVB sponsored giveaways and hosted a coloring contest for youth that received 250 entries.

The Ben Black Elk Award honors someone who makes an outstanding contribution to the state’s tourism industry. The award was given to Maureen Droz of Pierre, a recently retired employee of the Department of Tourism who worked in the department for nearly four decades.

“Maureen is someone who traveled all over the world to promote South Dakota and always gave more than was asked,” said the Lt. Governor. “The extreme passion and love for South Dakota was infectious to everyone that Maureen met during her global travels; we can’t thank her enough for the decades of her life she devoted to the State of South Dakota.”

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.



For high resolution photos of all of the award winners, follow this link:


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