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Department of Tourism Gearing Up For a Promising Summer Season





PIERRE, S.D. – With pent-up travel demand and consumers beginning to express increased interest and optimism about traveling, the South Dakota Department of Tourism is gearing up for what looks to be a busy summer tourism season.

“Our Department of Tourism has worked hard and smart over the past year to keep South Dakota top-of-mind for visitors, even during a pandemic,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “Because of their efforts and our respect for freedom, we are seeing growing interest in our state nationwide. We’re hearing from visitors in our established markets in record numbers, but we are also seeing growing interest in new regions of the country. I’m looking forward to a very good tourism season in The Mount Rushmore State.”

As the Department of Tourism looks ahead to the 2021 peak travel season, adjusting the marketing strategy to mimic the ever-changing travel intent of consumers is critical - especially after the challenges of traveling in 2020.

“Consumer confidence in traveling has been climbing consistently since January. With the vaccination rollout, consumers are feeling more comfortable and confident in travel,” said James Hagen, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism. “In recent national surveys, respondents have consistently indicated they are interested in visiting rural destinations and small towns, metro areas, beach destinations, state and regional parks, national parks, and mountain destinations. Of those six, South Dakota specifically has four in spades. That bodes very well for future travel to our state.” 

The 2021 marketing campaign theme “Go Great Places” encourages travelers to embark on road trips, discover outdoor adventures, seek wide open spaces, and explore South Dakota when the time feels right for them. The department is utilizing a phased messaging approach. As traveler sentiment and overall outlook for travel changes, the department's message will adjust accordingly. 

The department's 2021 efforts include national and regional magazines; cable and broadcast television; digital; social media and influencer partnerships; inspirational direct mail pieces; podcast sponsorships; traditional and online radio; ongoing public relations outreach; international and domestic trade efforts; and out-of-home placements across billboards, gas station pump advertising, street kiosks and grocery stores. As consumers continue to spend more time on mobile devices and view video content, marketing efforts will leverage interactive video to drive further consumer engagement.

The department also partners with many communities across the state through a co-op marketing program which allows further extension of marketing dollars, added diversity in content the state is promoting, and reach into additional markets. Community co-op partners in 2021 include the Aberdeen Hotel Alliance/Aberdeen Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association, Custer BID Board, Custer State Park, Deadwood Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, Hill City Chamber of Commerce, Hot Springs BID Board, Mitchell Convention and Visitors Bureau, Pierre BID #1, City of Sturgis, Visit Spearfish, Watertown Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Yankton Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

Early results from the campaign have been positive, showing a 45% increase in visits to the department's website, TravelSouthDakota.com, from the beginning of the year versus the same time in 2020.

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen. 

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Media Notes:

  • More information about the Department of Tourism’s marketing strategy can be found on its industry website SDVisit.com.
  • Sample of a 2021 television placement.
  • Samples of the marketing materials being utilized can be downloaded here.
  • A set of high-resolution photos of tourists enjoying the state’s attractions can be found here.