COVID-19 Weekly Research Update


August 14, 2020

It's Friday, Tourism Friends!

According to traffic estimates from DOT and reports we’re hearing from industry partners, it sounds like the 2020 Sturgis Rally attendance may exceed recent projections of 250,000. THANK YOU to our hotels, B&Bs, campgrounds, restaurants, cities, town and attractions for implementing health and hygiene protocols to keep our guests safe and well while they were here. We know these bikers were enjoying the great outdoors in South Dakota and taking in one of the country’s most beautiful areas.

Here are a few highlights from the latest COVID-19 Weekly Research Report:

  • For the week ending August 8, national travel spending again gained two percentage points, but is still down -46% below last year’s levels.
  • South Dakota bucked the trend again this week and ranked 3rd for year-over-year domestic travel bookings, outperforming all other states but Wyoming and Montana.
  • Travel spending in South Dakota was down -22% last week compared to the same time last year, surpassing our regional states of North Dakota (-36%), Iowa (-40%), Minnesota (-50%), and Wyoming (-26%).
  • There was a massive boost of website traffic and engagement on last week with web sessions increasing 106% and pageviews increasing 100%. Much of this traffic is visiting our newly added Moving to South Dakota pages.
  • The share of respondents who say they are likely to travel by personal car during the next six months reached a new high of 73%. Respondents also shared that they are willing to drive further than previously stated, with 23% now willing to drive more than 500 miles one-way on a leisure trip.
  • Travelers reported feeling twice as safe taking part in outdoor activities like visiting a state or national park (58%) as they would attending an indoors sporting event (26%) or indoor concert (25%).

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.

We continue to receive emails from around the country from people who are interested in moving to South Dakota. We have also heard first-hand accounts from industry partners who have personally talked with visitors who have recently moved here due to the situations in their home states and who appreciate Governor Noem’s individual responsibility approach to handling the pandemic. If you receive emails from someone interested in relocating, please feel free to share our Moving to South Dakota pages on as a resource for them.

Finally, just a reminder to be sure and reference our health and hygiene resource page on to find great tips and information about keeping everyone safe and well while they are in South Dakota.

Enjoy the weekend!

All our best,
Jim & Team

Jim Hagen
Secretary of Tourism



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