COVID-19 Weekly Research Update


May 29, 2020

Happy Friday Industry Partners,

Here is the COVID-19 Weekly Update. We are seeing some positive trends emerging in both travel spending and consumer sentiment towards future travel.

A few things worth noting this week:

  • The greatest improvements in the percentage of travel spending from last week across the US occurred in Wyoming, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Arkansas.
  • South Dakota’s largest YOY decline in hotel occupancy for the month of April was in the southeast region at (-63.8%), followed by the northeast region (-55.7%).
  • The Arrivalist Travel Index, which monitors road trips to and within South Dakota, reported a big jump this past week increasing (22.5%) from the prior week.
  • The percentage of Americans who plan to travel in the next six months jumped significantly (71%) from the previous week (67%).

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

As shared last week, our marketing strategy is now one that tells potential visitors that South Dakota is open, ready, and waiting, when the time is right for them to travel. Phase two brings more high-inspirational channels like TV, Out-of-Home (OOH) and direct mail back into the mix. These efforts join the high-intent channel efforts like search, targeted digital, our Travelsmart emails and social that we kept active for those still planning during the pandemic.

While the high-intent efforts continue to target a national audience, new initiatives in phase two will target a regional drive market 500 miles or less from South Dakota. Primary markets will no longer include Dallas or Chicago and instead will focus on cities like Minneapolis, Omaha, and Denver. Our efforts will see a little less focus on families in the shortened peak travel season and more on our Wanderers and Searchers audiences that crave bucket-list experiences and exploring the outdoors.

To break down our phases, our shifts in message, tactics and markets — plus the criteria we base our decisions upon from one phase to the next — please see our "Great Places are Waiting" one-sheeter.

And finally, just a reminder that we have compiled health, safety, hygiene and reopening resources that will help you put best practices and protocols into place to keep your employees and visitors safe. You can access those resources here.

Stay well and have a great weekend! Let us know if we can be of any help. I can always be reached at [email protected].

All our very best,
Jim & Team

Jim Hagen
Secretary of Tourism



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