SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Efforts to get more people to come to South Dakota appear to be paying off.

More than 14 million visitors spent time in the state in 2022. And some of the strongest numbers are in the southeastern part of the state.

Last year, the area saw 1.86 Billion in visitor spending, edging out 1.81 billion in the Black Hills.
And it’s not just traditional tourism bringing people to the Rushmore State.

In 2022, southeastern South Dakota, which includes Falls Park, saw the highest level of visitor spending in the state. While the Corn Palace and other traditional attractions pull in tourists, the visitor spending includes people in the state for sporting events, conventions, and even medical treatment. According to Experience Sioux Falls, Falls Park pulled in just under a half million visitors in 2022.

Most out-of-state visitors to the park are, ranked in order, from Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa. Coming in at number 4 last year was Florida. Keegan, Caelyn and Kieran Halron are from Georgia.

“I love the water. I think it is just really relaxing, so I like the sound of that. I’m loving it right now, said Kieran. “Yeah, I like the sound of it, and I think it looks really pretty,” said Caelyn.

We also talked with Steven and Terry Ann Longo from Mt Pleasant Wisconsin. A 40th-anniversary road trip brought them to South Dakota with their dog Bear.

“He wants to see Mt Rushmore, the badlands make our way around the United States,” said Terry Ann.

Debbie and Brandon Best are visiting from Arlington, Texas.

“We flew into Omaha, we saw Iowa we drove into South Dakota heading to North Dakota then back to Omaha. Then when we were here we started looking for things to do in Sioux Falls, this was the top of the list and they are amazing, said Brandon. 

“Yes we love them beautiful we got some great pictures that we hope to share with our family on Facebook,” said Debbie.

So while the Black Hills, with Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse, will always be king of the attractions and traditional tourism, other parts of the state are working hard to make their own mark in attracting those out-of-state dollars.