COVID-19 Research Update


September 25, 2020

Hello, Friends!

Today, many are gathered in Custer State Park to take in the amazing sight of 1,400 buffalo as they thunder across the valleys and meadows of the Black Hills. It truly is a unique, once in a lifetime event for many who travel from across the country to experience it. This is the perfect time of year to showcase the beauty of our Great Places as they burst with fall color, providing a change of scenery at every turn.

Here are highlights from the bi-weekly COVID-19 Research Report:

  • National weekly travel spending decreased by 45% from the previous year. South Dakota’s travel spending again outpaced the nation, though, by decreasing only 28%.
  • South Dakota ranked 6th in the nation for lowest year-over-year travel losses on domestic bookings, surpassed only by MT, WY, ID, UT and AK.
  • Average U.S. hotel occupancy fell slightly last week to 48.6% as we head into the fall travel season and many students across the nation head back to school.
  • Road trips to and within South Dakota fell 18.7% after reaching the peak day of travel on Sept. 4, the Friday before Labor Day weekend. Month-to-date for September, South Dakota decreased only 9% when compared to last year.
  • Nationally, domestic air travel continues to be severely depressed, down by 70% from the previous year.
  • Those who are already traveling are far likelier to be prioritizing finding joy and escaping from boredom in their lives over the next six months, compared to other Americans.
  • Openness to travel continues to bloom. The level of excitement for learning about new travel experiences or destinations is at a pandemic-period high — one last obtained at the end of May.
  • 37% of Americans agree they need a vaccine to travel, down from a high of 45% at the start of August.
  • Americans are also less likely to feel their leisure travel will be dampened by current restrictions.

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

Please continue to utilize and share our health and hygiene resource page on to view tips on health and hygiene protocols. Let’s continue to do everything we can to give our guests a warm welcome and provide them with the great hospitality we’re known for.

Please drop us a line and let us know how you’re doing or if we can be of assistance in any way. I can be reached at [email protected]

All our best,
Jim & Team

Jim Hagen
Secretary of Tourism



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