Travel South Dakota’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for all South Dakotans by strengthening our communities and their tourism economies, encouraging responsible stewardship of our destination, and creating meaningful experiences for all to enjoy.
The South Dakota Department of Tourism is made up of two divisions: Travel South Dakota and the South Dakota Arts Council. Travel South Dakota is separated into four teams: Global Public Relations & Content Services; Global Travel & Trade; Global Marketing & Brand Strategy; and Industry Outreach, Development & Research.
Whether it’s promoting South Dakota's legacy attractions like Mount Rushmore National Memorial or our world-class pheasant hunting experience, it’s a privilege to tell people about our great destinations. We love to tell the story of the rich culture of the Native Americans and the history of pioneers like Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Together, we’re here to serve the people of South Dakota and all who come to meet our Great Faces and explore our Great Places.
Jim has served as South Dakota’s Secretary of Tourism since 2011. He has a passion for seeing the visitor industry in all corners of our state grow to new heights.
Before becoming the Secretary of Tourism, Jim served four and a half years as the National Fundraising Campaign Director and Public Relations Director for the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. From 2004-2006, he served as South Dakota’s Secretary of Tourism and State Development. From 1995-2002, he served as Chief of Staff and Special Advisor to Governor Bill Janklow.
Jim was honored and proud to represent South Dakota as the National State Tourism Director of the Year in August 2014. He was chosen by his peers in the National Council of State Tourism Directors and the U.S. Travel Association. Under his leadership, and in close partnership with the tourism industry in South Dakota, the state has set new economic impact records every year over the past seven years, including all-time spending and visitation records. During his tenure as Secretary, the Department of Tourism has been the recipient of numerous regional and national marketing and public relations awards.
In March 2014, Jim was appointed to the 32-member National Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. The board is charged with advising the United States Secretary of Commerce on travel and tourism issues affecting our country. In March 2016, he was reappointed by Secretary Pritzker to another two year term on the TTAB. He also serves on the Executive Board of the U.S. Travel Association and chairs the Membership Governance Committee. In January 2017, he was elected Chairman of the National Council of State Tourism Directors.
Jim grew up in the northeast region of The Mount Rushmore State. He is a graduate of Aberdeen Central High School and the University of Southern California. He loves South Dakota’s outdoors and its hidden gems. He is always up for a good adventure, so be sure and invite him to explore your corner of the state.
Wanda has been a part of the tourism industry in South Dakota since 2006, and has served as the Deputy Secretary since 2012. Prior to this role, Wanda served as the department’s Media & Industry Relations Manager, and worked as the Public Relations Director for a small marketing firm.
Always a South Dakotan, Wanda grew up in the southeastern corner of the state. She loves sharing the stories of South Dakota, whether it be an American icon like Mount Rushmore National Memorial, an off-the-beaten path gem like the National Music Museum, or one of the state's great faces such as the alligator wrestlers at Reptile Gardens. As a staunch advocate for the importance of travel, Wanda proudly serves on the Family Travel Association’s national board of advisors. In her role on the FTA board, and as the department’s Deputy, she enjoys the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects, and never tires of seeing a first-time visitor to her state transformed into an ambassador.
When she’s not enthusiastically promoting the state she loves and calls home, she and her family can be found fishing or boating on South Dakota’s Lake Oahe, hiking in South Dakota’s outdoors, or traveling to explore a new destination.
- Provides fiscal support to the department, including management of all funds received and distributed
- Oversees financial reporting and accounting of funds and Internal Controls efforts
- Manages on-going expenses and department budgeting
- Drafts and oversees department contracts
The Global Marketing & Brand Strategy team is responsible for working with our marketing agencies to develop, execute and manage our year-round domestic and international marketing campaigns in key strategic markets.
Together, the teams conceive the creative elements in our work, media tactics and schedules, and overall marketing strategy. The team works on omni-channel campaigns that utilize TV and Connected TV, digital, paid social media, print, audio and digital audio (podcasts + streaming), email, Out-of-Home (billboards + activations), and consumer and industry websites. The team also administers a robust cooperative marketing program that provides matching funds and opportunities to various South Dakota tourism industry partners that connect to our overall marketing efforts.
The Global Travel & Trade team is responsible for promoting South Dakota as a premier vacation destination to both domestic and international group tour operators. They use their expertise to educate and inform tour operators about South Dakota’s diverse tourism offerings, and to identify growth segments of the group tour market. The primary domestic focus of the team is attending trade shows, such as the American Bus Association conference, that have the most potential for delivering tours to the state. The team also attends international travel trade shows like IPW, the United States’ largest travel trade show; International Tourism Business (ITB) in Berlin (the world’s largest travel trade show); and World Travel Market in London (the world’s second largest travel trade show).
As part of the Rocky Mountain International (RMI) consortium, the Global Travel & Trade team partners with the states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming to pool financial resources in the international market to gain larger exposure for the state and the region. RMI coordinates several travel trade missions every year to target tour operators in countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. These missions consist of meetings where the team meets with dozens of tour operators to ‘sell’ the state. Travel South Daktoa also contracts with firms that assist us with travel trade outreach in Japan and China.
- Oversees all Global Travel & Trade efforts
- International Marketing efforts (TravelSouthDakota.com)
- Rocky Mountain International (RMI) promotions
- Marketing campaigns
The Global Public Relations & Content Services team works closely with the Global Marketing & Brand Strategy team, outside marketing and public relations agencies, and tourism industry partners to promote South Dakota as a premier vacation destination to media and consumers around the globe.
The team actively pitches South Dakota tourism-related stories to state, regional, national and international media in order to secure coverage in major print & online publications and broadcast outlets. Throughout the year, this team hosts numerous travel writers and journalists as well as social media influencers to put a spotlight on the state and its tourism offerings. The team also conducts media interviews, provides photo & video assets to media outlets, and issues press releases from Travel South Dakota.
This team is also the communications arm to South Dakota’s tourism industry, servicing both external and internal stakeholders while serving as the backbone of Travel South Dakota’s content creation efforts, including industry and consumer emails, web content development and maintenance for SDVisit.com and TravelSouthDakota.com, long and short-form video, and vacation and visitor guide services.
- Coordinates and supports Global Marketing strategies and efforts
- Implements Brand Standards
- Supports Global Marketing campaigns
- Manages South Dakota Logo usage and Great 8 Logo usage
- Provides ad design tips
The Industry Outreach, Development & Research team is responsible for providing support and assistance to the communities and businesses within the South Dakota tourism industry. This team proactively travels the state to provide industry members with information about cooperative programs, marketing campaigns, consumer trends, marketing research and the latest updates from Travel South Dakota. They make it their goal to help industry members plug into the department as much as possible.
In addition, the team is responsible for organizing industry outreach events such as the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism. They assist communities with destination development initiatives within the three key niche areas of agritourism, outdoor recreation and native tourism. The team also oversees the state’s Interstate Welcome Centers and the hiring and training of the seasonal staff who work in them. Finally, the team is responsible for tracking and reporting travel indicators and also oversees the annual economic impact studies that demonstrate tourism’s impact on South Dakota’s economy.
- Directs outreach and development initiatives
- Oversees Industry performance and reporting
- Oversees research initiatives and economic impact studies
- Oversees Agritourism development initiatives
- Oversees TAP Grant program
- Coordinates tourism conference sponsors & exhibitors
- Regional liaison (western and central regions)
- Community visits
- Coordination of industry training workshops
- Co-op program promotion
- Product development strategy and facilitation
- Welcome Center hiring and personnel management
- Management of daily Welcome Center operations
- Welcome Center employee training and familiarization tour coordination
- Welcome Center sales and co-op programs
- Welcome Center exhibits and visitor experience