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Tourism Slows In The Black Hills

September 13, 2010, 10:20 PM by Austin Hoffman

Tourism Slows In The Black Hills
RAPID CITY, SD - Tourism is one of the Black Hills many lifelines, and as summer winds down, so do the visitors.

"Once Labor Day comes and goes, things do change around here," John Brockelsby, Reptile Gardens Public Relations Director said.

Brockelsby said among those changes is the demographic of the onlookers.

Rright now we have a lot of retired people, people that might be even on their way to southern states to spend the winter," Brockelsby said.

Verna Schroter is one of those snow birds. She spent the summer in the Black Hills, but winters in Alabama and has watched the transition first hand.

"It is a different population without the kids, I’m sure the kids are out here on the weekends, but um, during the week, no. Its really peaceful and quite and everybody is really very friendly," Schroter said.

She's noticed the number of visitors has taken a big drop.

"We'll go to Mt. Rushmore or we'll go up Needles Highway, the traffic is cut in half, the trees are beautiful, the restaurants are available, it’s just terrific," Schroter said.

Brockelsby said much of their workforce is made up of students and teachers, which they lose once school starts. That along with the drop in attendance calls for some changes.

"We cut our hours back at this time year, reduce the admission price," Brockelsby said.

He says something different that reptile gardens is doing this year is staying open a little bit longer than they have been in the past.

"For November and December we will have the dome open and we'll reduce admission a little bit more. So people, if they want to see the reptile collection, they can see that," Brockelsby said.

He says it will be nice to be open late in the year, but it's already been a great tourist season.

"Overall I think everybody in the visitor industry in the Black Hills is pretty darn satisfied," Brockelsby said.

Brockelsby said the slower pace and smaller crowds also give workers a nice chance to visit with tourists.

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