PIERRE -- South Dakota's tourism industry brought in more than $1 billion in revenue last year, the first time in history the state has hit that mark, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Thursday.
The industry, which saw a 10 percent increase in spending from the previous year, supported more than 28,000 jobs and provided in $265 million in revenues for state and local governments, according to a study commissioned by the state.
The $1.05 billion in tourism revenue includes spending on hotel rooms, food, attractions and some transportation and shopping. South Dakota residents account for about 27 percent of total tourism spending, Daugaard said.
The governor credited the state's investment in advertising and cooperation between South Dakota's attractions for bringing in more tourism. He also thanked former Gov. Mike Rounds, saying Thursday's announcement was a "measure of what was accomplished" in Rounds' final year in office.
Officials released the figures in advance of the Governor's Conference on Tourism on Thursday night.
Daugaard repeated a call he made during last week's State of the State speech to renew a half-cent sales tax on certain tourism-related items. The tax, enacted two years ago with the support of the tourism industry, is scheduled to expire this year. Revenue from it has allowed the tourism department to spend less money from the state's general fund, he said.
With travel costs increasing, Daugaard and Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen said they would continue to try to attract tourists from surrounding states.
"As the cost of tourism goes up, those who are stewarding their dollars closely look for value," Daugaard said. "I'm hoping that people will see South Dakota as a great value."
Hagen, who served as Rounds' tourism secretary from 2004 to 2006, said he felt he was rejoining the department at a high moment.
"We are on a tremendous roll here," he said.