Rapid City Mayor urges residents to welcome tourists

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — As this holiday weekend comes to an end, tourist season is just beginning. However with COVID-19, this time of year looks a little different than usual.

Mayor Steve Allender says normally during tourist season, the Rapid City population grows immensely. Which makes it a great opportunity for the city’s business economy.

Even as cases of COVID-19 rise in the area, Mayor Allender says we should continue to welcome visitors.

“It’s not appropriate or fair to assume that only infected tourists are going to come here. Just because they come from Illinois or Michigan or California, that they are going to be diseased,” Mayor Steve Allender said.

While the beginning of the 2020 tourist season is slower than usual due to the pandemic, residents are still seeing a rise in the number of visitors.

“We started seeing an increase late last week without any doubt,” Craig Hart, resident of Rapid City, said.

“I believe that people are going to come here whether we invite them or not and we are not going to shutdown the city or our state so the people that come here most likely are feeling pretty healthy and they want to get out and about and they are looking at us as a place to do that,” Julie Jensen, CEO of Visit Rapid City, said.

Eight year Rapid City resident, Craig Hart, says as long as tourists respect his hometown and the Black Hills area, he doesn’t mind them visiting.”

“It’s personal responsibility on everyone coming to visit. If they practice the social distancing and wearing a mask and hand washing, it’s fine. We’re all in this together, if they do their part and we do our part, I think that that would work,” Hart said.

According to the Department of Health web page, Pennington County has 125 active COVID-19 cases, 28 recovered, and 3 related deaths.

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