Tourism is a moneymaker and more money for South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — The state tourism department spent nearly $15 million on marketing in 2021, but the return was billions or millions, depending on the numbers.

Katlyn Svendsen, global director of media and public relations for the tourism department, said the department spent $14.69 million on marketing in calendar year 2021.

Visitors spent $4.4 billion in the state in 2021, which translated to $345 million in state and local taxes, according to the tourism department.

According to the state’s Game Fish and Parks Department, hunters alone spend about $202 million in the state.

Marketing money can be spent on TV ads or other options, but it’s designed to draw the visitor to what South Dakota has to offer.

Badlands. Photo by South Dakota Department of Tourism.

The Ministry of Tourism used what it described as a stacked approach in 2021.

“The 2021 campaigns use a stacked marketing approach for targeted viewers, using touchpoints across all mediums. This multi-channel approach includes broadcast, cable and connected TV; online and interactive video, outdoor/out-of-home (OOH), national and regional mass-circulation magazines,” the tourism website said.

The department monitored the success of campaigns, including online impressions.

“In total, we generated over a billion impressions and over 49 million engagements, two record numbers. These are conservative numbers as they only reflect numbers that we know with confidence we can trace back specifically to our marketing tactics that users have engaged with,” Svendsen said.

Impressions can turn into visits and overnight stays. And the department wants to know how many minutes users spend on the state’s TravelSouthDakota.com website.

“Of the approximately 500 million impressions we can track, we estimate that nearly $114 million in hotel revenue was generated and more than 461,000 hotels and flights were booked in our state,” Svendsen said. “Visitors to TravelSouthDakota.com spent a total of 5.9 million minutes on the site engaging with over 5.43 million pages.”

Marketing efforts are directed to the primary markets of Colorado and Minnesota, for two examples. The Department also has primary metropolitan markets such as Minneapolis and Chicago. Non-primary markets include Des Moines, Iowa and Lincoln, Nebraska.

The number of visitors to South Dakota did not equal the amount in 2019, 2018, or 2017, but they spent more money.

Visitors spent a record $4.5 billion in South Dakota in 2021, according to the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

Visitors and spending have increased from the COVID-19 pandemic year of 2020 in a state where Governor Kristi Noem has repeatedly said it is open for business and visitors. The same message was shared throughout 2021.

As visitor spending hits an all-time high in 2021, the state had 13.5 million visitors, down from the 14.5 million who came in 2019.

Outdoor attractions

In September 2020, Noem announced that she planned to spend $5 million in CARES COVID relief funds to promote tourism in South Dakota. The advertisement included promotion of the Badlands and other exterior features.

Outdoor activities are a big source of tourism revenue in South Dakota.

The South Dakota Department of Fisheries and Parks estimates that outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, and others spend $1.3 billion annually to support these activities.

In 2019 alone, the GPF said resident and non-resident pheasant hunters spent $202.4 million in the state.

In 2021, the state focused on promoting hunting amid a slight decline in hunting license sales to nonresidents.

The South Dakota Department of Tourism and Department of Fisheries and Parks have cooperated on a plan to promote hunting in South Dakota and retain those hunters in key markets in Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and Colorado.

Based on 2021 licensing reports, the promotion had a positive impact.

The GFP reported that 78,002 non-resident small game licenses were sold in 2021.

That’s at least 10,000 more than what was sold in 2020 and 2019 and about 8,000 more than what was sold in 2018.

“Through a strong partnership with the South Dakota Game Department, Fish and Parks (2021), we saw a 19% increase in non-resident pheasant licenses over the three-year average. Best of all, youth small game licenses are up 83% over the three-year average,” Svendsen said.

On January 5, KELOLAND News reported that GFP and the tourism department plan to promote fishing to residents and non-residents in 2022.

Anglers spend $271 million on the activity in the state, according to the GFP.

Annual fishing licenses for non-residents were less than 30,000 from 2018 to 2021, when licenses sold reached 32,351.

Resident and non-resident licenses in annual or daily licenses have been up and down since 2018. But resident fishing licenses in those two categories hit highs in 2021.

Resident annual fishing licenses were 67,340 in 2020, falling to 55,512 in 2021.

Svendsen said the tourism department plans to spend $11.5 million on marketing in calendar year 2022.

Visits to state parks spend about $212 million a year.

The GFP recently reported record years for camping units and visitors to state parks in 2021.

The number of campsites and state park visits was high in 2021. There were a record 2.3 million visitors to Custer.

The park also attracted 59,171 RV units in 2021.

Overall, the GFP said 394,714 camping units were used and more than 8 million people visited state parks.

Noem mentioned an additional 176-unit campground at Custer State Park in his Jan. 11 state of the state address, but Rep. Charlie Hoffman, R-Eureka, agriculture committee co-chair and Natural Resources, said Jan. 23 that it received mostly negative feedback on the proposal. He doubted the proposal would get out of the committee.

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