South Dakota banks on big tourism season


South Dakota's visitor industry is looking at a pair of high-profile milestones and stable gas prices to drive vacationers to the state during the 2016 tourism season, which will be well underway by the end of May.

Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen says the 75th anniversary of the completion of Mount Rushmore and the National Park Service's centennial celebration are expected to help fuel interest and bring visitors.

Maureen McGee-Ballinger is chief of interpretation and education at Mount Rushmore. She says there will be events to celebrate the anniversary of the famous carving's completion.

About 13.7 million visitors to South Dakota spent nearly $3.8 billion in in 2015. It was a strong year for tourism buoyed by the 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the 50th Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup.

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