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SD tourism says Trump's Rushmore visit brought big publicity windfall

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President Donald Trump speaks during the Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration on Friday, July 3 in Keystone. (Matt Gade / Republic)
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PIERRE — South Dakota tourism officials said Thursday that the state's Mount Rushmore fireworks celebration on July 3 — which included a visit from President Donald Trump — was a big win for publicity efforts.

The Department of Tourism said in a statement Thursday that conservative estimates indicate that the event had an advertising value of at least $22 million, due to global media coverage.

"This estimate is based on advertising value equivalency, an estimate that is likely low given that several broadcast programs covering the event experienced historically high ratings during their coverage," said the department's Global Media and Public Relations Director Kaitlyn Richter. "Coverage of the event is still being tallied and that number is expected to grow."

To date, the event has generated an estimated $2 million in direct visitor spending for the state and spurred an estimated $160,000 in immediate tax revenues to state and local governments.

“Our goal with the fireworks celebration was to put a spotlight on the grandeur of Mount Rushmore National Memorial and position South Dakota front and center in the minds of potential visitors,” said Jim Hagen, secretary of the Department of Tourism, in a statement. “We couldn’t be happier about the tens of millions of viewers who tuned in to see the majesty of this national icon and our beautiful Black Hills. We’re confident this exposure will inspire those viewers to add the Great Faces and Great Places of South Dakota to their bucket list of vacation destinations, whether that be yet this year or in the years to come.”

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The state also reported large increases in online searches and web traffic regarding Mount Rushmore and visiting South Dakota over the July 4 period.

Officials said the State of South Dakota expects to spend approximately $1.5 million on the event, including all security, transportation and pyrotechnics, with most of that being paid by the Department of Tourism.

The $350,000 price tag for the fireworks itself are being paid for from the Governor's Office of Economic Development's Future Fund, which the governor has discretion in how to spend. State law says the money should be used for research and economic development. State officials initially indicated earlier this year that private funding would be used to pay for the fireworks.

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