BH Tourism Index: +11.3% | Black Hills & Badlands - South Dakota
  • BH Tourism Index: +11.3%

    With all but December's Taxable Sales and Black Hills Hotel Occupancy numbers reported, the Black Hills Tourism Index is up 11.3% over 2014.

With all but December's Taxable Sales and Black Hills Hotel Occupancy numbers reported, the Black Hills Tourism Index is up 11.3% over 2014. 2015 was definitely a banner year from an early start of double-digit growth in January that carried through to the end. This comes after three consecutive years of positive numbers reported.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the South Dakota Department of Tourism reported last Thursday at the 2015 Governor's Conference on Tourism in Pierre that the total economic impact of tourism in South Dakota was $5.9 billion, with 13.7 million visitors spending $3.8 billion this past year.

We already know that 2015 brought the biggest Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the largest Custer State Park Annual Buffalo Roundup—but now we can also see that three Black Hills national parks experienced "biggest-ever's" too. For Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site and Devils Tower National Monument, 2015 saw the largest number of recreational visitors ever recorded. Collectively, the national parks in the Black Hills and Badlands region saw 564,465 more recreational visits this year, up 13.7%.

So...the numbers show that many people visited, but did they stay and did they spend money? For 2015, can respectively answer "yes" and "most definitely."

Despite averaging a 1.4% greater supply of hotel rooms, the Black Hills Hotel Occupancy Rate was still up 3.3% through November. Taxable Sales during that same time were up an absolutely remarkable 15.3%!  

The Deadwood Gaming Total Handle was down 2.2% in December, but ended the year up 3.1% overall. 2015 marks the fourth year in a row that the total handle was up.

With these numbers in mind, we are confident that the positive trends will continue through 2016—the year marking the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 75th anniversary of Mount Rushmore.

For more information on the BH Tourism Index and/or its calculation, please contact BH&B's Vice President of Marketing, Mike Gussiaas, by emailing mike@blackhillsbadlands.com or calling (605) 355-3600.