Senator John Thune
My work in the Senate requires me to spend most weeks commuting back and forth between South Dakota and Washington, D.C. While traveling, I’m fortunate to meet a wide range of people, some of whom are curious about South Dakota’s landmarks and history, while some are South Dakota enthusiasts having visited a number of the state’s great landmarks. Those who have visited speak highly of Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Deadwood, Sturgis, the Corn Palace, Sioux Falls, the Lewis and Clark Trail and many of the other great places and experiences South Dakota has to offer.
Yet it is the honest, kind, and generous disposition of South Dakotans that visitors seem to highlight most often when talking to me about our great state. I have been told a number of heartwarming stories about how South Dakotans were so kind during visits, providing tourists with a great experience and memories that last a lifetime.
Likewise, helping South Dakotans with their visits to our nation’s capital provides me with an opportunity to share so much of our nation’s rich history with our state’s residents. I have watched families light up when they see the Capitol for the first time, marvel at the Declaration of Independence, and get goosebumps from Arlington National Cemetery. Over 18 million American tourists visit D.C. each year, allowing people from around the globe to share in our symbols of freedom and democracy.
The first week of May is recognized as National Travel and Tourism Week. As our state’s second largest industry, tourism is critical to South Dakota’s economy, with domestic and foreign visitors greatly contributing to our state and local tax bases. In 2013, South Dakota saw nearly $2 billion in economic impact from tourism-related activities and collected $298 million in local tax revenue.I’m pleased to advocate for an industry that contributes so much to our country and our state. I commend those who work tirelessly to provide services to travelers and provide opportunities for cultural and educational growth through travel.