COVID-19 Weekly Research Update


July 24, 2020

Hello, Tourism Friends!

We continue to receive emails from people from all over the country about how excited they are to visit our state and, in some cases, stating that they want to move here! In addition, we continue to receive some encouraging reports from partners, and it is clear that we are beginning to make some positive strides in travel spending and visitation in a few areas in the state. See below for the latest in our COVID-19 Weekly Research Update:

  • South Dakota was one of five states that surpassed the 50% occupancy rate mark in June, exceeding the national average of 42%.
  • The western region of South Dakota reached the highest occupancy levels in June at 54%, followed by the central region at 53%.
  • On the national level, the percentage of American travelers who now feel safe traveling outside their community has fallen again to 38%, also a low since mid-May.
  • The percentage of consumers who expect the coronavirus to worsen within the next month decreased from 62.7% last week to 59.8%.
  • Outdoor recreation, scenic drives, wildlife viewing and camping continue to lead the way as popular activities for our guests.
  • Visitation to our state parks increased by more than 20% for the month of June when compared to last year. This is a 30% increase calendar year-to-date.

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.

I’d like to take this opportunity to call out a few additional items this week:

  1. Funds remain available in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s programs established to provide relief for businesses impacted by COVID-19. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) still have funds available for South Dakota businesses. The August 8th, 2020 application deadline for the PPP is fast approaching. Check with a South Dakota SBA Lender in your community for more information and to apply. If your primary lender is done accepting applications, you may use a different lender. EIDL applications are available directly through SBA Disaster Assistance.
  2. has been developed to provide mental health assistance to people struggling due to the impact of COVID-19. Please help us spread the word to your employees and others in your community. If they are in need of assistance, they can call 211 to speak with a counselor as well as access resources and support on This is a positive step for you or those you care about to help with depression, anxiety and stress during this difficult time.
  3. We’d like to thank all of our partners who joined us Wednesday for the South Dakota Department of Health webinar. Consumers have stated that their health and safety is the number one concern when traveling, and we must continue to ensure our communities and businesses are ready and able to provide that for them. If you were unable to participate, you can view the webinar recording and deck.
  4. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is just around the corner, and we know many of you are fielding calls and taking questions from visitors about the upcoming event. We will be sharing a one-sheeter with you next week that covers some basic talking points about the best routes to take through our state to get to Sturgis. The one-sheeter will also share a few reminders about keeping our bikers and visitors safe while they are in our state.

Have a great weekend and keep up your efforts in taking good care of yourselves and our visitors.

All our best,
Jim & Team

Jim Hagen
Secretary of Tourism



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