For two years running, South Dakota has amassed record tourism numbers. The state Department of Tourism is optimistic about turning the hat trick in 2017.

Those record numbers in 2016 add up to $3.8 billion dollars spent by 13.9 million visitors. Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen sees that national trends are setting up for another possible chart-topper.

“I expect that all the indicators that we’re seeing for 2017 whether it’s coming from the U.S. Travel Association and their economists is that leisure travel is going to be very strong. For the first time in a long time we’re actually seeing families consider taking three vacations. Business travel seems to be picking up a bit. I’m feeling pretty good about 2017.”

When it comes to bringing international travelers to the state, Hagen reveals one nation that typically comes in bunches.

“When it comes to tour buses the Chinese probably dominate. One of our goals over the next couple of years is to keep those Chinese visitors here longer. On average, these Chinese visitors spend about $4,500 per trip. They spend about three to four weeks in the country.”

Hagen says they are also aggressively promoting the Dignity statue that was installed last year at the I-90 rest area near Chamberlain.

One of the highlights also to come in May will be the dedication of the new Visitors Center at Good Earth State Park southeast of Sioux Falls along the Big Sioux River.

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