Each January during 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 or individuals who have made outstanding contributions to South Dakota's tourism industry. Two 2022 awards were presented to Jan Grunewaldt (Sioux Falls) and Karen Kern (Pierre).
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 2021 award was NewsCenter1 (Rapid City).
- The Peter Norbeck Excellence in Tourism Innovation Award honors a South Dakota tourism industry partner for innovative marketing, special promotions, or improvements to their business or attraction. Rushmore Tramway Adventures (Keystone) was named the winner for 2021.
- The Ruth Ziolkowski Outstanding Hospitality & Customer Service Awards recognize members of the South Dakota tourism industry who have displayed remarkable hospitality and customer service. Bruce Cull (Yankton), Prudy Calvin (Watertown), Wanda Bunker (Chamberlain), and Jeff Oldham (Reptile Gardens) were recognized for 2021.
- The Governor's Tourism Rising Star Award recognizes an individual who has worked in the South Dakota tourism industry for 2-4 years, is excelling at their job and will make a positive difference in the years to come. The inaugural award was presented to Sarah Kills In Water (Mission).
- The George S. Mickelson Award honors a business or organization that promotes outstanding hospitality and customer service training for its employees. The 2021 award was presented to AmericInn by Wyndham (Belle Fourche).
For nomination information about the Tourism Awards, please go to the Tourism Awards Nominations page.
For a list of all those previously recognized with Tourism Awards, see the page with Past Winners.
For more information, please contact Jim Hagen at 605-773-3301 or [email protected].