RAPID CITY, SD (KOTA) – Due to the pandemic, most people thought that one of the top industries in South Dakota was going to have a huge hit in 2020. However, people from across the country flocked to the state for outdoor social, distant vacations. A new year and a vaccine mark a fresh start for the tourism season.
From hiking the Black Hills to driving the badlands, the outdoor opportunities in South Dakota brought tourists in 2020, and the state tourism board predicts 2021 will be the same.
“There are so many contingencies and we definitely hope that with these COVID things we can get back to a sense of normalcy,” said John Brockelsby, a member of the State Tourism Board. “But you know people who really want to travel, and South Dakota, the whole state and the Black Hills are certainly wonderful places because there is so much to do outside.”
Brockelsby, whose family opened one of Rapid City’s tourist attractions, Reptile Gardens, said he and the staff at the unique zoo are ready to bring back the things people know and love about the park. Things that are missing in 2020.
“We’ll open the first Saturday in March, but from Memorial Day weekend,” said Brockelsby, Reptile Gardens’ public relations manager. “We hope things are under control by this point so we can get our snake show going again, our pet a python, pet Fluffy, the baby alligator, some of those things that we had to cut back on last year. ”
As Reptile Gardens said, Brockelsby, businesses and organizations across the state are preparing for a new tourism season.
“The tourism department, the Visit Rapid City folks, and the Badlands Association all have great marketing plans for the coming year and I’m damn optimistic,” said Brockelsby. “I think we’re going to have a good season and hopefully we’ll leave all this other crap in the rearview mirror.”
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