Fewer tourists spend more

South Dakota State Roundup

Published November 1, 2004  | November 2004 issue

Summer reports from the state tourism office suggest that while fewer visitors toured the state's most popular spots, they may have spent more money.

The typically popular sites of Mount Rushmore and Mitchell's Corn Palace saw a decline in the number of visitors this season: down 13.9 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively, in June. July declines were not as steep, but confirmed the trend for the summer. Other sites such as the Jewel and Wind caves and Custer State Park also suffered from fewer tourists. Officials attribute the decline to high gasoline prices and uncertainty in the Middle East.

But not every tourism spot was down. Total state park visitors were up 20.2 percent in June and 24.7 percent in July compared with a year ago.

Deadwood also saw an increase, due perhaps to the HBO series on the town. The state Department of Tourism's share of Deadwood revenue for June was up 5.1 percent, at over $195,000, compared with $184,000 last year at the same time.

Tourism officials also anticipated that the end of the season would bring more visitors commemorating the Lewis and Clark bicentennial.

Kathy Cobb