Last updated: 12:32 PM ET, Wed September 16 2015

South Dakota Tourism Officials Anticipating Historic Year

Destination & Tourism | Patrick Clarke | September 01, 2015

South Dakota Tourism Officials Anticipating Historic Year

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South Dakota tourism officials are anticipating a strong year.

Thanks to the combination of favorable weather conditions, declining gas prices and a series of key attractions, state officials have high expectations for tourism in 2015, the Associated Press reported.

Information provided by the South Dakota Tourism Department revealed that the amount of tourism taxable sales at the end of July ($350 million) was 14 percent higher than the same period last year.

In addition to tourism taxable sales, visits to state and national parks in South Dakota and hotel occupancy across the state are up from last year, tourism department research and visitor services manager Kirk Hulstein told the AP. 

Hulstein called the data "excellent."

"As we come to a conclusion of the summer months, indicators are showing that this could be one of our biggest years ever," Hulstein told the AP.

Keep in mind the industry brought an estimated $2 billion to the state in 2014.

The 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally drew big numbers to South Dakota last month, and officials expect another impressive turnout for the 50th Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup this September.

Park visitor services coordinator Craig Pugsley told the AP that the park brought in $560,000 from motorcycle tourists during last month's rally, a more than $200,000 jump from 2014. "The park is a special place, and it attracts lots of people who have very fond memories of their experience here," said Pugsley. "It is a gem."

South Dakota's encouraging tourism update comes less than five months after the Mount Rushmore State released a buzzworthy ad comparing itself to Mars. 

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