South Dakota’s Tourism Continues to Grow

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Entrance to the Black Hills National Forest. Photo courtesy of John Coletti/Getty images.

Tourism continues to grow for South Dakota, marking eight straight years of economic growth for the Mount Rushmore state according to a report titled the Economic Impact of Tourism in South Dakota 2017.

Key Facts

In 2017, spending by tourists increased 1.2% to $3.9 billion. Tourism accounts of 8.9% of all jobs in South Dakota and generates $291 million in state and local taxes thanks to approximately 13.9 million visitors. This amounts to the support of 37,391 jobs and indirectly generating/supporting 53, 894 jobs. The tourism industry is South Dakota’s sixth largest employer.

Visitor Spending

Approximately $10.6 million is spent daily in South Dakota with estimates as follows:

  • Lodging $722 million (19 cents for every dollar received). 77% of lodging is due to tourism only outdone by the food and beverage industry.
  • Food and Beverage $868 million ($23 million increase) 42% related to tourism.
  • Retail $826 million ($75 million increase since 2013).
  • Recreation $595 million (57% related to tourism).
  • Transportation $869 million.
  • Visitors spent a total of $4.2 billion in 2017.
  • With the revenue received from visitors and tourism to South Dakota, each household would need to have been taxed an additional $871 to make up the difference.
  • The tourism industry accounted for 2.8% of South Dakota’s total GDP.


South Dakota was able to see an increase for the year of 2017 even after 2015 was the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the 50th anniversary of the Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup, and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.


I have been to South Dakota twice, once in 2012 and then again in 2015 for the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. My travels to South Dakota are well documented in this blog, including in my book 25 & 18 Riding Cross Country. Personally, and I’m not alone in this belief, the best motorcycle riding roads are in South Dakota with Colorado second. A must for every motorcycle riding bucket list.

MC Atty

For prior motorcycle blogs, follow this link.

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