- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota’s top tourism official is encouraging residents to take their vacation days as the summer visitor season gets underway.

Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen said Tuesday that officials are optimistic about the summer, citing “sky-high” consumer confidence and increased interest in the department’s website and newsletter.

Tourism is one of South Dakota’s top industries. A study by Tourism Economics found that visitor spending in South Dakota reached $3.9 billion in 2017, an increase of 1.2 percent from 2016.

Visitation to South Dakota remained steady at 13.9 million visitors, a slight increase from the previous year.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard says officials are updating interstate rest areas and that there will be three new welcome centers for travelers. He says South Dakota’s hospitality, warmth and friendliness will continue attracting and surprising visitors.

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