SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The more money travelers spend in South Dakota, the less money is potentially removed from the pockets of South Dakota residents.
The state tourism economy generated $308 million in state and local tax revenue in 2019, according to the state of South Dakota Tourism department. If that money didn’t exist, each South Dakota household would pay $890 more in taxes each year, according to S.D. Tourism.
So, it’s good news for South Dakota residents that while traveler spending is still behind 2019, it had a significant increase for the week ending Oct. 10. Traveler spending includes tourism dollars spent by visitors at parks, tourist attractions and hotels as well as spending at events like conventions and athletic games.
As of the week ending Oct. 10, a 21% reduction in travel spending was cut to an 8% reduction in one week, based on state and national data.
Travel spending was down $6 million for the week ending Oct. 10 as compared to the same time in 2019, the South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management said. But it was up from the $14 million decrease in the prior week, according to the Oct. 15 weekly coronavirus travel report from the U.S. Travel Association.
Governor Kristi Noem announced on Sept. 8 that the state would use $5 million in CARES Act COVID-19 relief money to promote tourism in South Dakota.
The ad campaign didn’t appear to have an immediate impact based on spending from August shared by the U.S. Travel Association. Spending was down by $21 million for the week ending Aug. 22 and $18 million for the week ending Aug. 29 as compared to the same time in 2019.
Many colleges and schools started in many districts during the week ending Aug. 22, which could account for some of the end of August.
Spending was down by $10 million for the week ending Sept. 5. The decline was followed by decreases of $16, $18 and $17 million in successive weeks.
While state and national data shows increases in visits to some South Dakota state parks and national parks compared to 2019, the spending is still behind 2019 from May on.
Travelers spent $49 million or $22 million less for the week ending July 11 than in the same week of 2019, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
From January through Sept. 30, visits to parks increased by 14.7% from 2019, according to the South Dakota Department of Tourism. The department said there were 11,232,492 park visitors from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30.
Air travel continues to lag behind 2019’s numbers. From Oct. 14 through Oct. 20, domestic flights in South Dakota were down 27.1% from the same time in 2019, according to Arrivalist‘s Daily Travel Index. Traffic was down 17.2% from Sept. 21 to Oct. 20.
Decreased air traffic is not good but state tourism officials have said that the state attracts many people who drive to destinations including visitors from Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and other nearby states.
The coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted tourism and travel but the Midwest has lost less than other regions. But it also had less to lose as other regions generated more in traveler spending.
The Midwest has lost $65 billion while the South has lost $138 billion, the West has lost $125 billion and the Northeast $87 billion, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
When Noem announced on Sept. 8 her plan to use CARES Act money to market the state as a destination for tourists during the pandemic, the state had 2,670 active cases of COVID-19 and 68 people in the hospital. The state had just come from its single highest new case report (251) since the pandemic started.
The pandemic will continue to impact travel, Destination Analysis said in an Oct. 18 report.
The AAA said on Oct. 15 that 80% of those who plan to travel in the U.S. plan to take road trips.
While tourism and holiday travel may still be less than in 2019, Destination Analysis said two areas of travel showed increases in interest.
Convention travelers who report they would be happy if asked to attend an in-person meeting in the next six months grew to 49.7%. Also about 40.5% of respondents said they were willing to take an overnight ski or snowboard trip, according to Destination Analysis.