South Dakota tourism continues to rise after pandemic

The Early evening news on KOTA Territory TV
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 7:48 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -This past year, the total economic impact of tourism was $7.6 billion.

Visitor spending increased by $350 million compared to pre-pandemic numbers and overall in 2022, 14.4 million people visited South Dakota. Those travelers spent a total of $4.7 billion which is 15% more than pre-pandemic highs. This also set an all-time record for the amount of money spent.

Although last year was a great year for tourism, Reptile Gardens management said that in their 85-year history, 2021 took the top spot.

“The year after the pandemic was so successful, that 2022 and beyond were comparing the numbers from 2018, and 2019. So yes, last year was another big year for us but not near what 2021 was,” said David Yahne, curator of horticulture.

With more visitors traveling to South Dakota, this helps the overall economy of the state.

The revenue that comes from travelers helps bring in more jobs. About 56, 826 jobs were supported by the tourism industry, providing an income of $2.1 billion for those families.

Right now Reptile Gardens is getting ready for their opening day on March 4.

“We do have a lot of changes this year, as well as with every year. We do like to evolve, we like to make sure our animals have different displays. We do have major construction going on in our dome right now,” said Yahne.

Yahne said they are expecting 2023 to bring in slightly more tourists than 2022.