Warm autumn inspires off-season tourism in the Black Hills - KOTA Territory News

Warm autumn inspires off-season tourism in the Black Hills

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The drought may have hurt South Dakota's number one industry - Agriculture.

But its second largest industry - tourism - has certainly benefited from the warm weather.

Driving across country with a three year old, Heather Sawo is happy to take a break and enjoy the scenery in places like Reptile Gardens.

"You can actually go and look at things that you wouldn't have time to look at in the summer," said Sawo, traveling from Alabama.
 
More visitors like Sawo are finding their way to the Black Hills and reaping the benefits of off-season travel.
 
"A lot of that is because of the good weather. People are taking last minute trips. Looking at the warm weather thinking, 'yeah I'm going to make that'," said Nort Johnson, CEO of the Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes Association.
 
"It's less expensive, not as crowded. This time of year you're expecting bad roads for travel, but its going to be 60 all week," said Tim Wilson, visiting from Sioux Falls with his family.
 
Credit the weather, or the weather proof appeal of the Black Hills, but tourism numbers continue to show increases.
 
"This year we're looking at about 2.5 % increase for the fall over last year," said Johnson.
 
"It's been dry. It's great for business. People get outside a bit more, they're not afraid to get outside into the hills or out our way," said David Yahne, Curator of Horticulture at Reptile Gardens.
 
And often, off-season travel can entice tourists to come back next year.
 
"I like there's a whole bunch of stuff you can do in this area. I'm planning a trip for the summer so I can see everything," said Sawo.

State statistics show 2012 was a record breaking tourism year for the Black Hills.

From January to September, tourism in the Black Hills increased 6.47%.

Last year, South Dakota's tourism industry took in more than $1 billion dollars.

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