COVID-19 Research Update


March 15, 2021

Happy Monday, Tourism Friends, and an early Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Can you feel spring in the air?

Our peak marketing has hit our target markets, the Legislative Session has come to a close, the state basketball tournaments are here, and the weather is up and down like a yo-yo. We are experiencing a little blast of winter again today. It just wouldn’t feel like South Dakota without this infinite variety of weather!

We are pleased to share our latest COVID-19 research updates with you. Sentiment is really changing in a very favorable way!

  • 84% of Americans report that they plan to travel within the next six months.
  • Pent up demand for travel continues to grow in this new year. Four in 10 travelers (44%) plan to take more trips in 2021 compared to 2020. 39% say their next vacation will be at least a week long.
  • American travelers' optimism continues to improve with record highs in excitement to travel in the near-term (56%), readiness to travel (60%), and a perception of travel activities as safe (54%). The amount visitors plan to spend on travel in the next three months increased from $1,388 last week to $1,463 this week.
  • Close to six in 10 American travelers (58%) are optimistic they will be able to travel safely in the next six months, with most looking towards the summer months.
  • June, July, August and September are ranking as the top months for travel. July is number one, with 26.5% of travelers saying that is the month they will hit the road.
  • Younger generations have a more positive outlook about traveling in the next 12 months as uncertainty increases with age.
  • One-quarter of companies plan to resume domestic business travel in the next three months, up from 16% in January.
  • When asked to use just one word to describe how they feel about travel right now, “EXCITED” is what Americans largely cite, a feeling that has become even more predominant since the start of the year.
  • Even though there is much excitement about travel, 56.2% have not yet taken any significant action towards planning their next leisure trip, providing an opportunity for destination marketers to inspire them to visit.

Thank you to our research partners for providing this information: H2R Market Research, UberMediaTourism Economics, Destination Analysts, STR, U.S. Travel Association, Arrivalist, Miles Partnership, MMGY Travel Intelligence, ADARA, and Longwoods International.

Things are most definitely looking up. When asked, Americans plan to visit these types of destinations in the next three months:

  1. Cities/Metro Areas
  2. Small towns/rural destinations
  3. Beach destinations
  4. State, county or regional parks
  5. National Parks
  6. Mountain destinations

South Dakota captures four of the top six! This is great news for us.

On March 11, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act into law. There are provisions in the legislation which will assist travel and tourism in our recovery. Although there are many more details that need to be shared about how some of these provisions will work, you can see a list of those that positively affect our industry here. We will be sharing more details about these recovery programs in the coming days.

If you have any questions about the research in this email, or if we can be of help to you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or a member of the Tourism team. I can always be reached at [email protected]. THANK YOU, friends! Be well.

All our best,
Jim & Team

Jim Hagen
Secretary of Tourism



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