PIERRE, S.D. – A recent study released by the Department of Tourism shows that 73% of counties in South Dakota saw increased visitor spending over 2017. This growth correlated with the South Dakota tourism industry’s ninth straight year of record growth in 2018.

The detailed analysis from Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, indicates a majority of visitor activity took place in Minnehaha, Pennington, Lawrence, Brown and Custer counties, making up 67% of all visitor spending in South Dakota

The counties that experienced the largest year-over-year growth were Harding (27.4%), Hanson (25.4%), Sully (15.8%), Meade (10.9%), and Marshall (10%).

South Dakota’s southeast region led the state in growth, increasing 3.6% over 2017. All four regions saw growth over 2017, with the percentage increases as follows:

               Central Region (Missouri River Tourism Region): up 1.9%
               Northeastern Region (Glacial Lakes & Prairies Region): up 1.4%
               Southeastern Region (Southeast Tourism Region): up 3.6%
               Western Region (Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Region): up 2%

“The impact these visitors have on communities across our state is significant. They come to enjoy the beauty of our open prairies, fish our pristine lakes and abundant rivers, hunt our bountiful fields and stand in awe at our memorials and monuments. These visitors support restaurants, marinas, hotels and attractions in communities large and small. The strong numbers prove once again that tourism is an incredibly important part of the South Dakota economy,” said James Hagen, secretary of the Department of Tourism.

In 2018, total visitor spending in South Dakota reached $3.98 billion, resulting in $2.66 billion in GDP and more than $298 million in state and local tax revenue.

To view the full Tourism Economics County & Region Level Impact Report, visit

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The department is led by Secretary James Hagen.




Katlyn Richter, Global Media & Public Relations Director
South Dakota Department of Tourism
Phone: 605-773-3301
Email: [email protected]