COVID-19 research and marketing update


May 15, 2020

Happy Friday, Industry Partners!

Here is the COVID-19 Weekly Update with the latest insights from our research partners.

A few things worth noting this week:

  • South Dakota showed signs of increased travel spending over the prior week and was one of only nine states to register losses less than -80% last week.
  • Most Americans who plan to travel in 2020 have selected September or October (44%) for their next vacation. (Destination Analysts)
  • For those who stated they plan to take a road trip in 2020, most participants selected June (15%) followed by July (12%).
  • There has been a significant shift in sentiment regarding how locals feel about advertising that promotes their community. 56% of respondents stating they would be happy with it, while only 15% stated they would be unhappy.
  • Website traffic to has increased (29%) this past week compared to the prior year. This is a good indication that visitors are feeling the desire to travel and are considering South Dakota for their next vacation. Much of this increase has been driven by the Minnesota and Colorado markets.

Thank you to our research partners for providing this information: Tourism Economics, Destination Analysts, STR, US Travel Association, Arrivalist, Miles Partnership, MMGY Travel Intelligence, ADARA, and Longwoods International. If you have any questions about the research, please feel free to reach out to Kirk Hulstein at [email protected].

A few other items to share:

  1. Next week, we’ll be providing you with a more detailed plan about our marketing. We have shifted into a major new phase, from inspiring to now more openly courting and inviting visitors to experience our Great Places. This decision is based upon all of the data, insights, and research we have been meticulously tracking on a weekly basis since the middle of March. As of late, consumers were still negative about wanting to see any sort of tourism marketing. That sentiment shifted in a major way this week and we now feel comfortable stepping into the next phase of our advertising. We are encouraging visitors to come and see us when the time feels right for them — whether that be tomorrow, next week, next month, this summer, or fall. We are sharing this message with potential visitors on

    The South Dakota Department of Tourism is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in our state. The health and safety of our visitors, residents, and tourism businesses is our top priority.

    The State of South Dakota does not have any travel restrictions in place for visitors. We welcome you to enjoy our Great Faces and Great Places. Our tourism businesses and attractions, national and state parks, hotels, motels, campgrounds, restaurants, retailers, cities, and towns are open for business. We continue to prioritize safety by following CDC guidelines, especially when it comes to social distancing practices. Our industry has implemented — or is in the process of implementing now — hygiene, health, and safety protocols to keep you and your families safe while you are here. We encourage you to contact our department or the city/place to which you are heading in South Dakota if you have any questions about your trip.

  2. You can read a Q&A I did with Bob Mercer from KELOLAND News where I touched on a number of topics, ranging from our marketing, to keeping our visitors safe, to how we will need our state’s citizens to help our industry rebound.
  3. We want to remind you of the health, cleaning/sanitizing and reopening resources for tourism businesses. You can find the resources here.

As always, if we can be of any help to you, reach out to me at [email protected]. Please continue to be diligent in keeping yourselves, your team members, and our visitors safe and healthy. Have a good weekend!

All our very best,
Jim and Team

Jim Hagen
Secretary of Tourism



Department of Tourism COVID-19 Resource Page
State of South Dakota COVID-19 website