More than half of tourists to South Dakota come from nine states, with Minnesota far in the lead, according to a study published by the South Dakota Department of Tourism.
Minnesotans accounted for 11 percent of visitors to the Rushmore State in 2015, followed by Texas (6.7 percent), South Dakota itself (6.3 percent), Missouri (6.1 percent), North Dakota (5.4 percent), Colorado (5.1 percent), Nebraska (4 percent), Iowa (3.9 percent) and California (3.7 percent).
Nearly half -- 49 percent -- were people who had not been to South Dakota in at least five year, qualifying them as "new visitors." Thirty percent were visiting friends and family, while 70 percent were on "marketable" trips, meaning a leisure vacation during which visitors were far more likely to stay in hotels. Those "marketable" trips are concentrated during the summer months, while the visits to friends a family a spread throughout the year.
The internet is the dominant trip-planning tool for South Dakota tourists, with 81 percent using online tools to plan their trip. However, just 4 percent use social media to plan trips. A third rely on advice from friends and family, while 30 percent rely on preview sites such as TripAdvisor and 26 percent use the state's tourism website, TravelSouthDakota.com. Five percent get information from chambers of commerce and 7 percent have called the state's toll-free number to request information.
Twelve percent of South Dakota's visitors arrived by airplane while the rest drove a vehicle -- ranging from a motorcycle to an RV -- or rode in a motorcoach.
Nearly three-quarters -- 72 percent -- visited the Black Hills and Badlands region, followed by 28 percent to the Southeast region, 19 percent to the Glacial Lakes and Prairies region and 11 percent to the Missouri River region.
Most visitors report high satisfaction with their excursions to South Dakota, with 89 percent ranking them "excellent" (51 percent) or "very good" (38 percent). Another 10 percent ranked their visits as "good" and 1 percent "fair."