Tenting, Visits, Park Income Down – Dakota Free Press

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Game Fish & Parks’ camping-themed data suggests the Covid-denier tourism surge may be over. Camping at our state parks and recreation areas across South Dakota decreased 32% in April and 29% in the first four months of 2022 compared to 2021, according to data late in last week’s GF&P Commission Agenda Pack:

GF&P Division of Parks and Recreation, April YTD 2022 Camping by District, in GF&P Commission Agenda Pack, May 2022, p. 84

Of the 56 parks and recreation areas that hosted campers last year and reopened for camping this year, 49 had fewer guests so far this year than last year.

Thankfully, we charge more to come and stay at our parks, so accommodation revenue was down just 9% in April and 4% year-to-date. Total park revenue fell 15% in April and 6% year-to-date:

GF&P Division of Parks and Recreation, Revenue from Park Permits and Lodging, April 2022 and YTD 2022, GF&P Commission Agenda Packet, May 2022, p. 85

Visits have also decreased, 21% in April and 16% in the first four months of the year, with 51 out of 60 establishments seeing fewer people coming through the gates to picnic, fish, hike, ski in our , watch birds or suck great outdoors:

GF&P Division of Parks and Recreation, April YTD 2022 Visitation by District, GF&P Commission Agenda Packet, May 2022, p.  86 GF&P Division of Parks and Recreation, April YTD 2022 Visitation by District, GF&P Commission Agenda Packet, May 2022, p. 86

Boy, Gov. Noem had better hurry up and get federal court to let her have her fireworks party at Mount Rushmore. Or maybe she can pray for a Deltacron mutation to push everyone else back to masks and social distancing so she can lure vacation-hungry Covid refugees back to South Dakota. Your parks need more business!