The Black Hills region accounts for about half of South Dakota's tourism sales.
The Black Hills region accounts for about half of South Dakota's tourism sales.
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Apr 4, 2016

Growth of SD Tourism Tax Slows

After two years of impressive gains, South Dakota's taxable tourism sales leveled off in 2015 and posted modest growth, according to data from the state of South Dakota

Statewide, tourism sales grew 4.5 percent from 2012 to 2013 and another 6.8 percent from 2013 to 2014, going from $655 million in 2012 to $732 million in 2014. Then sales grew 0.5 percent from 2014 to 2015, which brought $735.5 million in tourism sales. All figures have been inflation-adjusted to 2015 dollars. 

In 2015, the tourism tax collected was $5.5 million from the Black Hills region and $11 million from all of South Dakota. 

For the past three years, growth in the Black Hills region has followed the same trend but exceeded statewide growth. The region accounts for nearly half of the state's tourism sales. (Data for Oglala Lakota County is available only for 2015, so the following list includes data from the Black Hills counties of Butte, Custer, Fall River, Lawrence, Meade and Pennington.)

  • 2012-2013 -- up 6.2 percent to $331 million
  • 2013-2014 -- up 8.7 percent to $360 million
  • 2014-2015 -- up 0.8 percent to $363 million 

The Black Hills growth rate fell behind the state recently when the region suffered declines for two straight years (2010-2012), dropping a total of 14 percent to $312 million in 2012. At the same time, statewide, tourism sales slid from 2010-2011 by 2.6 percent, to $655 million, then held steady into 2012 before taking off on two years of healthy gains. 

Black Hills Counties Dominate

While the Black Hills has enjoyed more growth and suffered bigger declines than the state as a whole, the region dominates taxable tourism sales in South Dakota, accounting for between 47 percent and 54 percent of the total over the past seven years. 

And within the Black Hills, Pennington County -- home to Mount Rushmore and Rapid City -- leads both the state and region with nearly twice the tourism sales of No. 2 Minnehaha County (home to Sioux Falls) and more than three times No. 3 Lawrence County, home to the Wild West and gambling town of Deadwood. 

From the Black Hills region, only Butte County did not rank among the state's top 15, instead coming in 27th among 66 counties. Statewide, each of the top 15 counties is either in the Black Hills, along the Missouri River or along Interstate 90 or Interstate 29, with the exception of Brown County, home to the state's third-largest city of Aberdeen.

Here are South Dakota's top 15 counties for taxable tourism sales in 2015: 

  1. Pennington -- $204 million
  2. Minnehaha -- $103 million
  3. Lawrence -- $64 million
  4. Meade -- $43 million
  5. Custer -- $27 million
  6. Oglala Lakota -- $25 million
  7. Hughes -- $20 million
  8. Brown -- $20 million
  9. Davison -- $17 million
  10. Codington -- $10 million
  11. Brookings -- $9 million
  12. Lyman -- $8 million
  13. Brule -- $8 million
  14. Yankton -- $7 million
  15. Fall River -- $6.5 million

Lodging Top Industry for Tourism Tax

When broken down by business type, lodging and campgrounds account for more of South Dakota's tourism sales than any other business type combined. In 2015, the $408 million from lodging and campground accounted for 55.5 percent of all of South Dakota's tourism sales.

Here's how tourism sales broke down by business type in 2015: 

  • Lodging and campgrounds -- $408 million, 55.5 percent
  • Shops and markets -- $89 million, 12 percent
  • Visitor attractions -- $58 million, 7.8 percent
  • Recreational services/rentals -- $41 million, 5.5 percent
  • Other visitor businesses -- $27 million, 3.6 percent
  • Restaurants -- $25 million, 3.3 percent
  • Spectator events -- $1.5 million, 0.2 percent


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