Destination South Dakota Tourism Initiative

I will be a passionate champion for South Dakota’s tourism industry!  By investing in tourism, we will create new jobs, grow our economy, and preserve our quality of life.  Tourism is our second largest industry- generating over $3.8 billion in annual spending and nearly $280 million in state and local taxes.  The tourism industry supports over 53,000 jobs- almost ten percent of all jobs in South Dakota.

South Dakota is the land of infinite variety and we have unlimited potential to further develop our tourism industry throughout the state.  In the West, we have the beautiful Black Hills and Badlands with must-see attractions.  We have the Missouri River running through the center of our state with endless fishing and recreation opportunities.  In Northeast South Dakota we have lakes and wetlands that support world class walleye fishing and unbelievable early season duck hunting… and so much more.  Millions of people come to South Dakota each year to enjoy the great outdoors Terry Redlin’s paintings memorialize.

If given the honor to be your new governor, I will…

1. Double the “Million Dollar Challenge”

Investing in our state’s tourism industry is one of the best investments we can make to create jobs and grow our economy.  Every $1 invested in the Department of Tourism’s marketing campaign generates $51 in visitor spending and $4 in tax revenue for our state.  Tourism brings nearly 14 million visitors to South Dakota every year, spending over $3.8 billion.  Investing more money in tourism marketing will result in more visitor spending that will fuel our economy and more tax revenue for our state so we can keep taxes low for citizens.

Governor Rounds started the “Million Dollar Challenge” matching-grant program and the results have been remarkable. As governor, I will propose we take the program to the next level by increasing funding to $2 million annually for at least four years.

The program is now called the Matching Dollar Challenge Grant Program.  It is a cooperative marketing partnership for new and/or enhanced marketing initiatives. Grant applicants may apply for up to $20,000 annually, and recipients are expected to match the funds provided by the Department of Tourism.

The program is designed to:
•Enable South Dakota visitor industry businesses/organizations to expand their marketing reach.
•Increase visitation to South Dakota and increase visitor spending.
•Accommodate projects with innovative potential.

Businesses and organizations applying for grant funds must provide a minimum of 50 percent of the total project marketing costs. Once approved, the Department of Tourism then matches up to 50 percent of those costs. Both grant funds and partner’s matching funds must be used for hard marketing like print, radio, TV, or digital efforts.


2. One More Day Campaign


The average tourist spends $280 per trip to South Dakota, and the average trip is 3.5 days.  During peak season, tourists spend over $10 million each day. If we can get tourists to spend one more day in South Dakota during their visit, we will generate tens of millions in new spending and millions in new tax revenue.

As governor, I will lead a marketing campaign to encourage visitors to explore more of South Dakota’s great places and faces.  The statewide campaign will utilize innovative marketing to show visitors what South Dakota has to offer and convince them to stay a little longer when they visit.


3. Increase the Pheasant Population

Whether you hunt or not, all South Dakotans have a huge stake in bringing back the pheasant population.  Pheasant hunting brings 80,000 to 100,000 non-resident hunters to our state every year and impacts thousands of jobs by contributing hundreds of millions to South Dakota’s economy.  Hunting benefits tourism, retailers, the hospitality industry, communities, and more.

We must preserve South Dakota’s status as the Pheasant Hunting Capital of the World.  Unfortunately, we have seen a significant decrease in our state’s pheasant population over the past decade.  The most recent annual pheasant brood survey shows an alarming decrease in the statewide pheasants-per-mile (PPM) index. The 2017 statewide pheasants-per-mile index is 1.68, down from the 2016 index of 3.05.
As governor, I will lead the effort to build a strong partnership with all stakeholders across South Dakota.  I will create a Blue Ribbon Commission to develop short and long-term objectives to restore our state’s pheasant population.  We will create public-private partnerships and take aggressive action to increase pheasant numbers.

I will work with both landowners and sportsmen for funding opportunities, including a voluntary $10 habitat stamp and a habitat license plate sportsmen could buy to generate partnership funding with landowners to increase our long-term habitat.  The plan will help revitalize rural communities, create new jobs, and grow our economy.


4. Recreation Infrastructure Development

We have some of the best state parks and recreation areas in the nation, and we have great potential to make them even better for residents and visitors to enjoy.  I am committed to investing in recreation infrastructure across the state that will increase tourism, improve our quality of life, and grow our economy.  We need to make sure visitors have a first-class experience when they come to South Dakota so they will extend their stay, come back, and tell their friends about the incredible experience they had in our state.

I will work hard to develop partnerships with employers to address workforce development opportunities and challenges.  My first jobs were working in tourism and I understand the workforce challenges facing the industry.  Tourism sustains over 53,000 jobs in South Dakota and there is constant demand for workers.  I applaud Governor Daugaard for his leadership and commitment to workforce development and I will remain steadfast in supporting the State’s existing initiatives, including SD WINS, the Build Dakota Scholarship, Dakota Roots, and Career Launch.


5. Year-Round Economic Engine

I will work to make tourism a year-round economic engine.  The vast majority of tourism spending occurs during peak season, but we have incredible potential to expand tourism during the rest of the year.  Restoring the pheasant population will increase spending from non-resident hunters during the Fall and Winter months.  Sports tourism continues to grow and we are seeing new opportunities with trade shows like Pheasant Fest, agritourism, recreational vehicles, wineries, micro-breweries and more.  We also have great opportunity to expand winter sports and recreation throughout the state.

Additional funding for marketing through the enhanced Matching Dollar Challenge Grant Program will help promote tourism during all months so we can further develop the industry into a year-round economic engine that will generate more tourism spending, create even more jobs, and grow our economy across the state.