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Our View: Pushing for tourism vital to economy

We heard last week about a new promotion in Mitchell that the Chamber of Commerce hopes will steer more events into the Corn Palace City each year. At relatively the same time, we heard that a dozen Black Hills tourism groups are launching an onl...

We heard last week about a new promotion in Mitchell that the Chamber of Commerce hopes will steer more events into the Corn Palace City each year.

At relatively the same time, we heard that a dozen Black Hills tourism groups are launching an online marketing campaign to attract visitors to the state in 2009.

To both ideas, we say "bravo."

These are not times to stand pat and it's our hope that tourism groups come up with progressive and comprehensive game plans to keep tourism -- the state's No. 2 industry -- thriving during the recession.

In Mitchell, the Chamber of Commerce marketing committee is prepared to put up $5,000 toward an event that brings people to town, preferably for at least a night or two. Interested groups are encouraged to apply for the funds through the Chamber of Commerce's Regional Marketing Committee. The event may be cultural, ethnic, historic, educational or recreational and priority will be given to events that would be held in the months that are not considered peak visitation times.

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In western South Dakota, the tourism groups are launching a $710,000 online marketing and public relations program to attract visitors. The coalition will utilize online videos, Web site banner ads and keyword advertising.

According to the state Office of Tourism, 2008 visitor spending in South Dakota totaled $967 million, creating an economic impact of some $2.4 billion.

The coming years won't be easy for many travelers. Unemployment is up, gas prices likely will rise again and no crystal ball can predict how consumers will react.

However, we cannot let South Dakota tourism slip. It's too vital to this state's economy.

It's good to see strong and bold promotions being made as we look ahead at recession.

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