COVID-19 Research Update


May 13, 2021

Hello, Industry Partners!

It was great to see many partners last week during National Travel and Tourism Week. We want to thank each and every one of you for your contribution in making NTTW such a huge success this year!

Here are a few key insights (and a lot of GREAT news) from the latest COVID-19 Research update:

  • South Dakota made up a lot of ground in travel spending for the month of March, down only -5% (vs. 2019), which is so much better than the national average of -31%.
  • Coronavirus anxiety—from both health and financial perspectives—remains lower than at any other period during the pandemic. In fact, pessimism about the pandemic’s course in the U.S. reached a record-low (10.9%).
  • The returning belief in travel’s safety remains strong. Three-quarters of American travelers now have confidence they can travel safely, and more than 90% have travel plans or are planning their trip right now.
  • More than 70% of American travelers are highly excited by the prospect of near-term travel and highly open to travel inspiration. More than three-quarters of American travelers say their state-of-mind is “READY” when it comes to travel. If you aren't already, now is the time to begin marketing your destination, attraction or event.
  • The average American traveler plans to take 3.0 leisure trips this year. More than 75% will take a trip within the next 3 months. June and July are again the most popular months for travel this year with 60% of travelers planning to do so in that timeframe.
  • Consumer expectations about travel prices may have started to catch up with the reality of the demand. The proportion who believe travel prices will be low this summer declined.
  • Avoidance of meeting and business events have reached a record-low at 53.2%. This segment of the industry is expected to make a significant rebound starting in the second half of 2021 and future bookings are already picking up.
  • Local support of tourism keeps growing as well. The proportion who don’t want travelers in their community remains under 40%. Anticipated happiness of seeing a travel ad about their community rose again, this time to 56.8%, the highest level recorded in the pandemic.
  • As several key Travel Sentiment Indicators continue to trend in the right direction or even set pandemic highs, many Americans are also recognizing that local businesses (many of which are tourism-related) were hardest hit by the economic fallout of the pandemic and wish to see their community and leadership make their recovery a priority.

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

SBA PPP Loan Update
From our partners at the South Dakota Small Business Administration Office: “Since April 2020, SBA partner lenders have assisted SBA in successfully launching more than 63,000 Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans to SD small businesses and non-profits. The combined total of 2020 and 2021 PPP loans for South Dakota is approximately $2.7 billion. Last week, after more than a year of operation and serving more than eight million small businesses across the U.S., funding for the bi-partisan Paycheck Protection Program has been exhausted.” SBA has compiled a Q&A regarding pending applications and an update on the PPP Loan program that can be viewed here.

Things are looking very positive for this summer travel season. If we can be of any help to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Stay 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