By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota

Winter may still have its grip on South Dakota, but travelers and communities are already thinking about the upcoming tourist season, energized by the recent Governor’s Conference on Tourism. And thinking about visitors to our state means thinking about our unique arts and cultural destinations. 

The arts are the fourth largest factor in making travel decisions, with 68% of travel driven by arts and culture. Between Rapid City and Sioux Falls, arts and culture nonprofits—the organizations that support our museums and creative destination points—generate $220 million in annual economic activity. Those same organizations support 7,000 full time jobs and generate $19 million annually in state and local tax revenue. 

In addition, 35 community arts councils are presenting events in every corner of South Dakota, connecting local and out-of-state tourists to festivals, performances and creative opportunities throughout the year. From Faulkton to Hill City, from Custer State Park to Vermillion, from Sisseton to Spearfish, there’s just so much to see and do in South Dakota that’s tied to our culture and creativity.

The State Tourism Department has long realized that the arts drive tourism—and exciting programs are available to capitalize on our statewide creative energy. From #StateOfCreate—a mobile-exclusive passport of curated attractions, retailers, restaurants, parks and more—to 48 Hours of Culture in the Capital City and 48 Hours Exploring the Arts in Sioux Falls, SD Tourism offers great programming for visitors of all ages. Check out these offerings and more at

This year, the Tourism Department has a goal to make South Dakota one of the Top Ten destinations in the U.S. We believe the arts are a key element in that strategy—in fact, our arts and culture are the gateway to our state’s unique destinations. Let’s shine the spotlight on cultural attractions in every community in South Dakota and spread those travelers throughout the state! 

Please visit for ideas to make your community an arts destination for local, regional and national tourists.