The Visitor Beat

Welcome to The Visitor Beat, the monthly newsletter of Experience Sioux Falls. Stay up-to-date on what's going on locally in the travel industry, as well as what's trending nationally.

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Record Visitor Spending and Total Visitation in South Dakota in 2023

During last month’s South Dakota Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Travel South Dakota shared that the state set all-time records in 2023 for both visitor spending and total visitation! According to the annual study conducted by Tourism Economics, visitors to South Dakota spent $4.96 billion, an increase of 4.9% over 2022, and surpassing all previous records.

South Dakota welcomed 14.7 million visitors last year, an increase of 2.3% over 2022, also an all-time record.

“Visitors are discovering South Dakota’s great assets: our people, our places, and our Freedom. The word is out, and that is why we continue to see record increases in our tourism industry,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “Year after year, this industry supports South Dakota’s economy and essential services in our communities. Together, South Dakota citizens are building the strongest economy in America.”

The annual South Dakota Governor’s Conference on Tourism concluded with the awards banquet where several industry members across the state were recognized, including Zane Lodmell of the Hampton Inn Sioux Falls! Zane was awarded the Ruth Ziolkowski Outstanding Hospitality & Customer Service Award, which recognizes tourism industry professionals who provide remarkable service to visitors and whose work demonstrates an outstanding spirit of hospitality.

See all award winners.

Zane Lodmell pictured with members of the Ziolkowski family, Gov. Kristi Noem (left end), and SD Dept. of Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen (right end)

Sioux Falls had a strong representation of industry members attending the conference where they learned valuable insights and takeaways to better market their business to visitors to our state.

Thank you to all the partners who donated items for the Sioux Falls basket in the Tourism Coalition of South Dakota (formerly Visitor Industry Alliance) raffle! This year’s Sioux Falls basket was valued at $2,400 and was won by Kenny with the Rushmore Hotel & Suites in Rapid City!

Partners who donated include:

  • 605 Magazine
  • Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel
  • Butterfly House & Aquarium
  • Canopy by Hilton
  • ClubHouse Hotel & Suites
  • Comfort Inn & Suites Sanford Sports Complex
  • Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc.
  • Great Plains Zoo
  • Harvester Kitchen by Bryan
  • Holiday Inn City Centre
  • Hyatt Place
  • Johnny Carino’s
  • Southeast South Dakota Tourism Association
  • Washington Pavilion

Tens of Thousands of Visitors Coming to Sioux Falls

Mark your calendars for March 1-3 for National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic, and March 8-12 for The Summit League Basketball Championships. Between these two events, Sioux Falls is expected to see tens of thousands of visitors to the city. Will you be doing anything special to welcome these guests? If so, Experience Sioux Falls would love to hear about it!

ESF Has Launched a New Bracket Challenge Promotion

Experience Sioux Falls (ESF) has put together a new bracket challenge promotion for The Summit League Basketball Championships. The first phase of the promotion has launched, which encourages people to sign up ahead of time for the bracket challenge and to get potential visitors interested and thinking about planning a trip. Phase two will feature an interactive bracket challenge that will launch once the brackets are finalized ahead of the March 8-12 tournament at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. Participants will be able to fill out their choice of a men’s or women’s bracket to be entered to win one of two weekend getaway packages. The two packages are each valued over $1,000.

Thank you to these partners who made donations for the packages!

  • Apricot Lane Boutique
  • Baking Up A Storm
  • Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop
  • Chick N Max
  • Dave & Buster’s
  • Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc.
  • Five Below
  • Great Shots
  • Holiday Inn City Centre
  • Hyatt Place
  • Kirkland’s Home
  • Lake Lorraine
  • MacKenzie River
  • Sandbar & Grill

Get signed up to receive the notice once the brackets are ready.

Sioux Falls Sourced Boxes Sent to 41 States

Experience Sioux Falls recently wrapped up the second year of its Sioux Falls Sourced campaign, which encourages people to sign up to win a box full of local products. Each quarter, a collection of different products was given out to 60 randomly selected winners. Over the course of the past year, a total of 240 boxes were sent to people in 41 of the 50 U.S. states. The Sioux Falls Sourced campaign saw nearly 39,000 people enter to win throughout the year.

Meet the Team Series

In this monthly series you’ll get to know a little about everyone that makes up the Experience Sioux Falls (ESF) team. This month, meet Matt Barthel!

Matt Barthel
Communications Manager
Has worked for ESF for: 9 years
Hometown: Sioux Falls

  1. What's your role with Experience Sioux Falls?
    My main duties include developing and managing the content for our website, social media channels, and email marketing. I enjoy it because it allows me to stay informed on what’s new and what’s happening in Sioux Falls.
  2. Describe your ideal day in Sioux Falls.
    My ideal day includes spending the morning doing something outside like going to the Falls Park Farmers Market, followed by lunch on the patio at Bread & Circus or Ode to Food and Drinks, walking the trails at Good Earth State Park, and then enjoying a beer outside at one of our breweries, eating at Roam for dinner, and then ending the night with a cocktail on the patio at Carpenter Bar.
  3. What's your favorite meal in Sioux Falls?
    I love the rotisserie chicken with a side of mashed potatoes and corn bread at Roam. The chicken has so much flavor and the atmosphere of the restaurant just make things even better!
  4. What's an underrated place in Sioux Falls you think more people need to discover?
    It has only been open for less than two years, but Pizzashop is a place you need to check out if you haven’t yet. Their Brooklyn style pizza is amazing! The Da Vinci is my personal favorite, with sausage, honey, chili flakes, and shaved parmesan.

Oh My Cupcakes! Receives Community Service Award

The South Dakota Retailers Association recently recognized Oh My Cupcakes! with the Community Service Award at its awards banquet. This award recognizes a business that goes above and beyond to give back to the residents of the community it serves.

Read more about this year’s award recipient.

Job Openings at Interstate Welcome Centers

Travel South Dakota is accepting applications to fill seasonal positions at five South Dakota Welcome Center locations along Interstates 29 and 90, with Valley Springs and Vermillion being the two nearest locations to Sioux Falls.

Learn more about the positions.

Remote Work Space for Visitors

Hoteliers, if your guests are looking for additional spaces for remote work while they’re in Sioux Falls, Startup Sioux Falls is a wonderful option to consider.

Learn more about the Startup Sioux Falls space.

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