Tourism Awards

Each January at the annual South Dakota Governor's Conference on Tourism, awards are presented to outstanding members or organizations that have contributed to the state's tourism industry.

  • The Ben Black Elk Award is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to South Dakota's tourism industry. The 2018 award was presented to Craig Pugsley (Custer).

    Read more about the Ben Black Elk Award and see the display at the Department of Tourism.

  • The A.H. Pankow Award honors a member of the media or public relations industry who has shown superior interest in and coverage of the South Dakota tourism industry. The recipient of the 2018 award was Midwest Living Magazine/the Meredith Corporation.
  • The Excellence in Tourism Innovation Award honors a South Dakota tourism industry partner for innovative marketing, special promotions, or improvements to their business or attraction. The Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History (Sioux Falls) was named the winner for 2017.
  • The George S. Mickelson Great Service Award honors a business or organization that promotes outstanding hospitality and customer service training for its employees. The three awards for 2017 were presented to the The Lodge at Deadwood (Deadwood), Rush Mountain Adventure Park (Keystone), and Crazy Horse Memorial (Crazy Horse).


For nomination information about the first three Tourism Awards, please go to the Tourism Awards Nominations page.

To learn more about the George S. Mickelson Great Service Award, please see the Great Service Star Designation page.

For a list of all those previously recognized with awards, see the page with Past Winners.



For more information, please contact Harla Jessop at 605-773-3301 or [email protected].