South Dakota's pocketbook sits better when visitors come and spend money. And numbers from the tourism department suggest strong visitor numbers so far this year.
The department reports numbers increasing for website visits, information requests and revenue indicators. Communities off the beaten path are trying to cash in on the strong visitor numbers this year too.
The attractions Aberdeen boasts sit on a four-lane highway but not a freeway. So it's very intentional about where advertising dollars go.
"Well, we watch our demographic pretty closely. We really know where our target markets are," Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Heidi Appel said.
Appel says the bureau and other organizations advertise in those markets which include North Dakota and western Minnesota. The hope is to draw more families from those places to add to regulars such as Erica Beffert, who's in town visiting family.
"In two days this is the kids' second trip to Storybook Land," Beffert said.
The Visitors Bureau wants to hear of families not only making multiple stops at attractions but multiple trips back to the area. Aberdeen visitor numbers are up 12 percent this year and there's no guarantee that trend will continue. But the Convention and Visitors Bureau is working to make sure it does.
"We hope our success continues into the rest of the summer and into our fall season," Appel said.
It's recently paid for a newspaper insert in North Dakota and will be tracking the number of inquiries that produces. It's also started marketing for pheasant hunting.
All in all, those with an interest in tourism are trying to get the message out that a trip off the freeway is worth it by spelling out some of the perks current visitors have found.
"Yeah, I think it's sort of laid back. The kids really like coming here. We don't have to pay admission and we can just come for 20 minutes, a half hour, whatever and see a little bit each time," Beffert said.
The Aberdeen area has spent tens of thousands of dollars this year to get the word out. The state has matched that money to help out too.
Aberdeen also advertises at information centers throughout the state. The Department of Tourism reports an increase of information flowing through those centers this year too.