After a long, hard winter in many parts of the state, spring is finally starting to show its face in South Dakota. The weather is getting warmer, spring sports have commenced, and soon the official start of the summer tourism season will be here.
From the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, to the Badlands National Park, to the Corn Palace, to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead, among many others, South Dakota is fortunate to be the home of numerous well known tourist attractions.
In addition to these nationally recognized sites, our state is blessed with abundant wildlife and vast landscapes that create opportunities for hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
As South Dakotans, we are blessed to be able to drive a relatively short distance to enjoy some of the best parts of our nation right here in our backyard. As a kid, I can remember spending many Labor Day weekends in the Black Hills with my family on vacation.
As the second largest industry, tourism is a great source of economic stimulus to businesses in South Dakota and greatly contributes to our state and local tax bases. In 2010 alone, travelers spent nearly $962.7 million across the state. As budgets continue to shrink, many businesses are anxiously awaiting for the financial bump from this summer’s tourism season.
The vast benefits of the tourism industry have long been recognized. In 1983, the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution declaring that a week in May be designated as National Tourism Week and President Reagan signed a Presidential Proclamation to urge Americans to celebrate this special week.
This year, the week of May 7th-15th has been designated as the National Travel and Tourism Week. Communities across South Dakota will hold events to raise tourism awareness and promotion. I encourage all citizens to get involved with events at the state and local level in celebrating tourism. It is important to businesses across the state, and is a great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather.