I have just returned from the Governor's Conference on Tourism and I'm happy to report that tourism in South Dakota held it's own in terms of gathering money for the state from out-of-state visitors who come here for their vacations.
Most notable is the state's recognition (finally) that at least a few of the people spending money in South Dakota arrive here on two wheels. There is much to be done. While the state's tourism department is doing what it can with the knowledge it has, there is much about the industry they must learn.
I had the opportunity to speak with many Legislators who were there to be seen and even some who were there to learn something about tourism. And, there were those Legislators from out here, who were gladly trying to explain tourism to the flat landers from east of the Missouri.
If we could get the folks in that conference to at least admit that the tourism folks from the Badlands west, might have something to offer the discussion, we would make even greater strides.
There are many things about Mike Rounds' tenure as governor that do not please me. That he has revived a tourism department and has yearly made strides to improve the visitor industry, is not among them.
But there is so much more that needs to be done.
One major improvement: There was a time not too long ago when you could go to the state's tourism website and discover that the biggest thing happening in Sturgis for the year was the threshing bee. That the motorcycle rally now has a section on the site of its own is a huge step forward. Now, if whomever is making decisions about what is in that section would make an effort to figure out what people are coming to see, we could have tremendous results.
All in all, though, I encourage folks to visit the improved
Things there are better than they once were. They're about a 10th of the way to where they need to be.