The South Dakota Department of Tourism’s mission is to promote the state as a premier vacation destination to all visitors and to support and serve the South Dakota visitor industry.
Tourism is separated into four teams specializing in media and public relations, travel and trade, marketing and brand strategy, and industry outreach and development. The four teams strive to tell the South Dakota story to potential visitors while keeping our marketing consistent.
Whether it’s promoting South Dakota's legacy attractions like Mount Rushmore National Memorial or our world-class pheasant hunting experience, it’s a privilege to tell people about our great destinations. We love to tell the story of the rich culture of the Native Americans and the history of pioneers like Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The South Dakota Department of Tourism is made up of two divisions: Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. Together, we’re here to serve the people of South Dakota and all who come to meet our Great Faces and explore our Great Places.
Jim has served as South Dakota’s Secretary of Tourism since 2011. He has a passion for seeing the visitor industry in all corners of our state grow to new heights.
Before becoming the Secretary of Tourism, Jim served four and a half years as the National Fundraising Campaign Director and Public Relations Director for the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. From 2004-2006, he served as South Dakota’s Secretary of Tourism and State Development. From 1995-2002, he served as Chief of Staff and Special Advisor to Governor Bill Janklow.
Jim was honored and proud to represent South Dakota as the National State Tourism Director of the Year in August 2014. He was chosen by his peers in the National Council of State Tourism Directors and the U.S. Travel Association. Under his leadership, and in close partnership with the tourism industry in South Dakota, the state has set new economic impact records every year over the past seven years, including all-time spending and visitation records. During his tenure as Secretary, the Department of Tourism has been the recipient of numerous regional and national marketing and public relations awards.
In March 2014, Jim was appointed to the 32-member National Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. The board is charged with advising the United States Secretary of Commerce on travel and tourism issues affecting our country. In March 2016, he was reappointed by Secretary Pritzker to another two year term on the TTAB. He also serves on the Executive Board of the U.S. Travel Association and chairs the Membership Governance Committee. In January 2017, he was elected Chairman of the National Council of State Tourism Directors.
Jim grew up in the northeast region of The Mount Rushmore State. He is a graduate of Aberdeen Central High School and the University of Southern California. He loves South Dakota’s outdoors and its hidden gems. He is always up for a good adventure, so be sure and invite him to explore your corner of the state.
Wanda has been a part of the tourism industry in South Dakota since 2006, and has served as the Deputy Secretary since 2012. Prior to this role, Wanda served as the department’s Media & Industry Relations Manager, and worked as the Public Relations Director for a small marketing firm.
Always a South Dakotan, Wanda grew up in the southeastern corner of the state. She loves sharing the stories of South Dakota, whether it be an American icon like Mount Rushmore National Memorial, an off-the-beaten path gem like the National Music Museum, or one of the state's great faces such as the alligator wrestlers at Reptile Gardens. As a staunch advocate for the importance of travel, Wanda proudly serves on the Family Travel Association’s national board of advisors. In her role on the FTA board, and as the department’s Deputy, she enjoys the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects, and never tires of seeing a first-time visitor to her state transformed into an ambassador.
When she’s not enthusiastically promoting the state she loves and calls home, she and her family can be found fishing or boating on South Dakota’s Lake Oahe, hiking in South Dakota’s outdoors, or traveling to explore a new destination.
The Global Marketing and Brand Strategy team is responsible for working with our marketing agencies to develop, execute and manage our year-round domestic and international marketing campaigns in key strategic markets. The team is also tasked with making sure the department’s brand standards are being adhered to with all of our marketing work.
In close collaboration with our marketing agencies, the Global Marketing and Brand Strategy team is engaged in the conception of the creative elements in our work, media tactics and strategy, and overall media schedules. The team works on campaigns that utilize traditional, broadcast, programmatic and alternative TV commercials, digital marketing, social media, print, direct mail and email marketing, Out of Home/guerilla marketing, and consumer and industry websites. The team also administers a robust cooperative marketing program that provides matching funds and opportunities to various partners in the South Dakota tourism industry.
- Coordinates and supports Global Marketing strategies and efforts
- Implements Brand Standards
- Supports Global Marketing campaigns
- Manages South Dakota Logo usage and Great 8 Logo usage
- Provides ad design tips
The Global Travel and Trade team is responsible for promoting South Dakota as a premier vacation destination to both domestic and international group tour operators. They use their expertise to educate and inform tour operators about South Dakota’s diverse tourism offerings, and to identify growth segments of the group tour market. The primary domestic focus of the team is attending trade shows, such as the American Bus Association conference, that have the most potential for delivering tours to the state. The team also attends international travel trade shows like IPW, the United States’ largest travel trade show; International Tourism Business (ITB) in Berlin (the world’s largest travel trade show); and World Travel Market in London (the world’s second largest travel trade show).
As part of the Rocky Mountain International (RMI) consortium, the Global Travel and Trade team partners with the states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming to pool financial resources in the international market to gain larger exposure for the state and the
region. RMI coordinates several travel trade missions every year to target tour operators in countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. These missions consist of meetings where the team meets with dozens of tour operators to ‘sell’ the state. The Department of Tourism also contracts with firms that assist us with travel trade outreach in Japan and China.
- Oversees all Global Travel & Trade efforts
- International – Europe (TravelSouthDakota.com)
- Rocky Mountain International (RMI) promotions
- Marketing campaigns
- International leads
- International media efforts
The Global Media and Public Relations team works closely with the department’s public relations agency and tourism industry partners to promote South Dakota as a premier vacation destination to media around the globe. The team actively pitches South Dakota tourism-related stories to state, regional, national and international media in order to secure coverage in major print and online publications and broadcast outlets. Throughout the year, the Global Media and Public Relations team hosts numerous travel writers and journalists as well as social media influencers to put a spotlight on the state and its tourism offerings. The team also conducts media interviews, provides photo and video assets to media outlets, and issues press releases from the department.
- Directs the overall public relations strategy
- Hostings (domestic and international)
- Lead spokesperson and media correspondent
- National Travel & Tourism Week
- South Dakota Newsroom (MediaSD.com)
- Manages all Global Marketing social media efforts
- Maintains brand voice across digital and social channels
- Supports Global Marketing content efforts
- Supports the public relations strategy
- Hostings (domestic and international)
- Lead familiarization tour coordinator
- Internal Communication
- South Dakota Newsroom (MediaSD.com)
The Industry Outreach, Development and Research team is responsible for providing support and assistance to the communities and businesses within the South Dakota tourism industry. This team proactively travels the state to provide industry members with information about cooperative programs, marketing campaigns, consumer trends, marketing research and the latest updates from the Department of Tourism. They make it their goal to help industry members plug into the department as much as possible.
In addition, the team is responsible for organizing industry outreach events such as the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism. They assist communities with destination development initiatives within the four key niche areas of agritourism, sports tourism, outdoor adventure tourism and tribal tourism. The team also oversees the state’s Interstate welcome centers and the hiring and training of the seasonal staff who work in them. Finally, the team is engaged in consumer research that assists the marketing team as they make decisions about target audiences and markets. The team also oversees the annual economic impact studies that demonstrate tourism’s impact on South Dakota’s economy.
- Primary industry point of contact
- Direct outreach and development initiatives
- Industry training content and programs
- Industry performance and reporting
- Oversee industry research and assessment
- Chair, annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism
- Coordination of Tourism road shows, Tourism Cares and Tourism for a Day
- National Travel & Tourism Week outreach
- Strategic outreach to state and national partners
- Regional Liaison
- Community Visits
- Online hospitality training
- Coordination of industry training workshops
- Co-op Program Promotion
- Product Development Strategy and Program Management
- Interstate Welcome Centers
- Hiring and personnel management
- Management of daily Welcome Center operations
- Welcome Center employee training and familiarization tour coordination
- Welcome Center sales and co-op programs
- Welcome Center exhibits and visitor experience
- Shipping and fulfillment
- Response to visitor inquiries
- Travel booth inventory and scheduling
- Publication inventory
- Industry database management
- General administrative support