SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Visitors spent $4.4 billion in the state in 2021, according to the South Dakota Department of Tourism.
The spending mark is a record for the state and an increase of 30% over 2020. It’s also 6% higher than any prior records.
The tourism department said the figure is based on a study by Tourism Economics.
The spending was done by 13.5 million visitors.
When those visitors were in South Dakota they ate and drank. According to the study, 23% of all spending was for food and beverages. It was the largest spending category at $999 million.
Every traveler spent an average of $323 in South Dakota on their trip.
The 2020 visitor year was considered a down year because of the pandemic. So, while 2021 outpaced 2020, the numbers also surpassed 2019 numbers.
Travelers spent an average of $283 on their trips in 2019. A total of about $4 billion was spent by visitors in 2019.
The tourism department study also calculates the amount each household would pay in increased taxes without tourism.
“It’s not just valuable for the State of South Dakota — these efforts impact communities and families throughout our state,” Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism Jim Hagen said in a news release.
The study showed that tourism generated $344 million in state and local tax revenue in 2021. Households would have paid $980 more in taxes without it, according to the tourism department.