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 & Brand Strategy team is responsible for growing the Department of Tourism’s reach and reputation as a premier vacation destination for visitors from around the world. Through engaging regional, national and international marketing campaigns, the Brand Studio team ensures that South Dakota’s promise – to inspire a greater connection to the free spirit in all of us – gets shared across its traditional, out-of-home, and digital channels. They see to it that the brand’s values and voice are consistently present – whether in a publication like the South Dakota Vacation Guide; through a peak, shoulder or winter Co-op program; in a Spotlight on TravelSouthDakota.com; or via the many captivating images they produce.
- 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
In order to keep South Dakota’s “Great Faces. Great Places.” in front of key trade professionals, the Global Travel & Trade team uses their expertise to lead these business-to-business efforts such as educating and informing business audiences about the diverse South Dakota visitor opportunities. The team also identifies growth segments of the group tour and international tour markets as well as enhances efforts to reach out to key travel agents and journalists.
- 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 & Public Relations team focuses on taking a proactive approach to building relationships with members of the media locally, regionally, domestically and internationally. The goal of the team is to raise awareness of South Dakota and to garner high-quality earned media coverage, specifically in regards to traveling to South Dakota. This team is responsible for media relations and public relations including large scale media events, individual press releases, media pitches, group and individual hostings, social efforts and internal communication plans.
- Directs the overall public relations strategy
- Hostings (domestic and international)
- Lead spokesperson and media correspondent
- National Travel & Tourism Week
- South Dakota Newsroom (MediaSD.com)
- Supports the public relations strategy
- Hostings (domestic and international)
- Lead familiarization tour coordinator
- Internal Communication
- 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
The Industry Outreach & Development team’s core function is to provide support and assistance to the communities and businesses within the tourism industry. This team can provide information about cooperative programs, marketing campaigns, consumer trends and marketing research. In addition, they are responsible for organizing industry outreach events and assisting communities with destination development initiatives within the four key niche areas of agri-tourism, sports tourism, outdoor adventure tourism and tribal tourism.
- 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