The South Dakota Office of Tourism recently released 2009 visitor spending figures at the Annual Tourism Conference in Pierre. The data showed for the period of November 2008 through October 2009 visitor spending in Clay County soared by 28 percent over the prior year, increasing from $8.4 million to over $10.8 million. This increase represents the third consecutive year of growth in visitor spending for Clay County.
"We had great events in 2009, the year-long Sesquicentennial Celebration, all-school reunion, and the South Dakota Barbeque Championship, all which contributed to the increase," said Steve Howe, executive director of the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company (VCDC). "Of course we're excited about the big boost in 2009, but we are equally encouraged by seeing consistent growth year after year in visitor spending. It shows people are continuing to find new reasons to come to the area."
According to the Office of Tourism estimations, visitor expenditures of $10.8 million had a total economic impact to the area of approximately $27 million. "Vermillion and Clay County have so much to offer visitors, from the National Music Museum, the expanded facilities and trail system at Clay County Park, and the Missouri River is an absolute gem. Most people don't realize we have a national park in our county," said Howe, referring to the stretch of river that abuts Clay County which has been designated the Missouri National Recreational River.
The VCDC currently partners with the Southeast South Dakota Tourism Association and the South Dakota Office of Tourism on many co-op marketing efforts, but plans to increase independent marketing as well.
"We have never really seen ourselves as a tourism destination or recognized these dollars as a viable revenue source. But seeing the overall economic impact tourism has, it's time we start getting the word out about what we have to offer," Howe said.