PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Tourism is hosting the 2020 Governor’s Conference on Tourism from January 21-23, in Pierre, S.D. The conference is open for registration to anyone interested in tourism, marketing and hospitality.

The theme of the conference — “Great Faces, Great Places”— is a celebration of the 30-year anniversary of the popular South Dakota tourism slogan.

“South Dakota’s great faces and great places have been making a splash in the tourism markets for nearly three decades,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “This annual conference is a time to recognize and celebrate the people and businesses that drive success for this industry.”

The annual conference brings nearly 500 people from across South Dakota and the United States together in Pierre to celebrate successes, network with peers, and learn more about trends in the travel and hospitality business.

“We are so proud of the tourism industry in South Dakota,” said James Hagen, Secretary of the Department of Tourism. “Tourism is providing our citizens and visitors alike the opportunity to experience our state’s natural beauty, family-fun attractions, vibrant communities, one-of-a-kind events, and a quality of life that is second to none. Tourism is also affecting South Dakota’s bottom line by generating tax revenue and creating jobs. For all of these reasons, and many more, we have much to celebrate at the conference.”

The 2020 Governor’s Conference on Tourism will welcome accomplished speakers from across the country to discuss topics such as marketing trends, research, customer service, and pressing issues in the tourism industry.

The closing banquet on Thursday, January 23, will honor and recognize industry members for their contributions to tourism in the state. The following awards will be presented:

  • The Ben Black Elk Award recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the state’s tourism industry.
  • The A.H. Pankow Award recognizes a member of the media or public relations industry who has provided exceptional coverage of South Dakota.
  • The George S. Mickelson Great Service Award honors a business/organization that shows an outstanding dedication to excellence in customer service.
  • The Excellence in Tourism Innovation Award honors a member of the South Dakota tourism industry for innovative marketing or new additions/improvements to their business or attraction that elevate the visitor experience.
  • The Rooster Rush Cacklin’ Community Award honors a community for fostering support of the Department of Tourism’s fall Rooster Rush campaign.
  • The Ruth Ziolkowski Outstanding Hospitality & Customer Service Award recognizes individuals who provide remarkable customer service and demonstrate an outstanding spirit of hospitality, warmth and genuine kindness to visitors.

For more information about the conference or to register, visit

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



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