(The Center Square) – Visitors to South Dakota spent a record $4.4 billion in 2021, according to a press release from the South Dakota Department of Tourism.
Spending was 30% higher than in 2020, the department said, citing a tourism economics study report. It amounts to $344 million in state and local tax revenue, state officials said, saving every household in South Dakota $980 in taxes.
More than 13.5 million people visited South Dakota in 2021, reversing the “pandemic-induced decline in 2020 and [surpassed] the pre-pandemic peak by more than six percent,” the report authors said.
Tourism accounts for 54,208 jobs in the state, or about 8.7% of all jobs in South Dakota, according to the report.
“South Dakota’s tourism industry has remained open for business and visitors, working tirelessly to support the millions of visitors who have chosen South Dakota as their vacation destination,” Governor Kristi Noem said in a statement. . “Their record efforts have contributed to our state’s record revenues, reviving our state’s economy to make it the strongest in the nation.”
Visitors spent nearly $1 billion on food and drink, accounting for 23% of all spending. Restaurant revenue was up 30% from a year ago, according to the report.
The report’s authors said some of the spending increases could be due to federal stimulus funds, but “the size of the force is likely supported by visitor activity.”
Visitor numbers to Custer State Park (CSP), the state’s largest, increased 12% to 2.3 million in 2021. Noem Asks Lawmakers allocate $10 million to create 175 additional campgrounds in the park.
The South Dakota Campground Association opposes the expansion and said in a declaration earlier this month would hurt smaller campgrounds.
“The addition of 175 additional campsites to CSP is more than double the average size of some Custer area private campgrounds and is significantly larger than the average size of any private campground in South Dakota. (based on SDCOA membership data),” the organization mentioned. “Add to that, CSP’s fee structure makes it impossible to compete with the private sector.”
the invoice sits on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.