In 2014, taxable sales attributed to tourism in South Dakota totaled nearly $732 million, and the Rushmore Region brought in the lion’s share of those sales, according to state revenue figures.
Buffalo Roundup, Custer State ParkPennington, Lawrence, Custer, Meade and Butte counties accounted for more than 48 percent of the sales subject to the tourism tax. The Black Hills region is a popular destination for sightseers, adventure seekers and motorcycle riders from all over the world, particularly in the summer months.
More than 2.1 million people visited Mount Rushmore last year. The annual Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally™ attracts more than half a million bikers during early August. (This year’s landmark 75th Sturgis Rally could bring as many as 1.2 million people.) In addition, during the the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup, spectators outnumber bison by 10 to 1.
Deadwood’s historic architecture and gaming casinos bring in millions of visitors, and Rapid revitalized downtown has become a destination in itself. The Mickelson Trail, a bicycling and hiking trail that traverses 109 miles of scenic backcountry, has become world famous.
Tourism is important to the rest of South Dakota as well. The region boasts some of North America’s best hunting and fishing. During pheasant season, orange-clad hunters work the cornfields and shelterbelts across the state.
The tourism tax is a 1.5 percent sales tax that applies to visitor attractions, motels, campgrounds, recreational equipment rentals and spectator events. Although some state residents pay a share of the tax, it’s a good indication of the impact that tourism has on the South Dakota economy.
In 2014, tourism’s $732 million in sales marked the best year since 2010, and a nearly 7 percent increase over 2013’s sales.