Last week, I announced my Destination South Dakota Tourism Initiative which features a five-point plan to promote the tourism industry, create new jobs and grow the economy.

Tourism is our second largest industry — generating over $3.8 billion in annual spending and nearly $280 million in state and local taxes. The tourism industry supports over 53,000 jobs — almost ten percent of all jobs in South Dakota.

The first proposal of my plan is to double the “Million Dollar Challenge” to increase funding for the Matching Dollar Challenge Grant Program to $2 million annually. Every $1 invested in the Department of Tourism’s marketing campaign generates $51 in visitor spending and $4 in tax revenue for our state. Tourism brings nearly 14 million visitors to South Dakota every year, spending over $3.8 billion. Investing more money in tourism marketing will result in more visitor spending that will fuel our economy and more tax revenue for our state.

My second proposal is to launch a “One More Day Campaign” to encourage visitors to spend another day during their trip to South Dakota. The average tourist spends $280 per trip to South Dakota, and the average trip is 3.5 days. During peak season, tourists spend over $10 million each day. If we can get tourists to spend one more day in South Dakota during their visit, we will generate tens of millions in new spending and millions in new tax revenue.

The third proposal in my plan is to restore the pheasant population, including the creation of a voluntary habitat stamp and license plate to help fund habitat. Whether you hunt or not, all South Dakotans have a huge stake in bringing back the pheasant population. Pheasant hunting brings 80,000 to 100,000 non-resident hunters to our state every year and impacts thousands of jobs by contributing hundreds of millions to South Dakota’s economy. Hunting benefits tourism, retailers, the hospitality industry, communities, and more.

My fourth proposal is to invest in recreation infrastructure development. I am committed to investing in recreation infrastructure that will increase tourism, improve our quality of life, and grow our economy. We need to make sure visitors have a first-class experience when they come to South Dakota so they will extend their stay, come back, and tell their friends about the incredible experience they had in our state.

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I will also work hard to develop partnerships with employers to address workforce development opportunities and challenges. I applaud Governor Daugaard for his leadership and commitment to workforce development and I will remain steadfast in supporting the State’s existing initiatives, including SD WINS, the Build Dakota Scholarship, Dakota Roots, and Career Launch.

The fifth proposal in my plan is to expand the tourism industry into a year-round economic engine. The vast majority of tourism spending occurs during peak season, but we have incredible potential to expand tourism during the rest of the year. Restoring the pheasant population will increase spending from non-resident hunters during the Fall and Winter months. Sports tourism continues to grow and we have new opportunities with trade shows like Pheasant Fest, agritourism, recreational vehicles, wineries, micro-breweries and more. We also have great opportunity to expand winter sports and recreation throughout the state.

Growing up in Sturgis, my first jobs were working in tourism. If given the opportunity to serve as your governor, I will be a passionate champion for South Dakota’s tourism industry! By investing in tourism, we will create new jobs, grow our economy, and preserve our quality of life.

The full plan is available at

Marty Jackley is South Dakota's attorney general and a Republican candidate for governor.

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