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South Dakota Tourism Numbers Holding Steady: YTD Hotel Occupancy
 Rates Off Less than 1% From Previous Year
By Jeff Bahr, American News, Aberdeen, S.D.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

August  6, 2009 - South Dakota tourism hasn't been affected by the economic downturn quite as much as other parts of the country, said Wanda Goodman of the state Office of Tourism.

Nationally, for the first six months of the year, occupancy rates were down 3 to 4 percent.

In South Dakota, occupancy rates were off eight-tenths of one percent from a year ago.

The Office of Tourism hears good news from businesses and other entities that depend on tourism, Goodman said. Custer State Park is having a "phenomenal" year. The city of Mitchell is having a good summer attracting tourists, she said.

In northeast South Dakota, the tourism business is having a better year than expected, said Rosie Smith, executive director of the Glacial Lakes & Prairies Tourism Association, headquartered in Watertown.

On a tour last month, she found that many businesses were having a good July.

In Smith's opinion, people are not traveling quite as far this summer. They're going to the Black Hills, but not as far as Yellowstone.

Campgrounds are having good numbers. Some people who've fished in Canada in recent years are planning to fish in South Dakota this year, she said.

In 2008, visitor spending in South Dakota increased 2.8 percent over 2007.

South Dakota is doing relatively well, Goodman said, because the state is affordable, "we have a lot of unique things to offer" and "our people are genuinely hospitable."

The Office of Tourism, she said, is doing a lot of marketing to neighboring states.

In Brown County, tourism's economic impact rose from $20,572,420 in 2007 to $22,131,129 in 2008. That was an increase of 7.6 percent.

Because of high gas prices last summer and the troubled economy, "I think any positive growth in the last two years is very notable," Goodman said.

In Brown County, tourism's economic impact rose from $20,572,420 in 2007 to $22,131,129 in 2008. That was an increase of 7.6 percent. Because of high gas prices last summer and the troubled economy, "I think any positive growth in the last two years is very notable," said Wanda Goodman of the state Office of Tourism

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Copyright (c) 2009, American News, Aberdeen, S.D.

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