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Camping, Visits, Park Revenue Down

Game Fish & Parks data on camping suggest the covid-deniers’ tourism surge may be over. According to data toward the end of the GF&P Commission agenda packet from last week, camping across South Dakota in our state parks and recreation areas was down 32% in April and down 29% for the first four months of 2022 compared to 2021:

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

49 of the 56 parks and rec areas that hosted campers last year and are open again for camping this year have had fewer guests so far this year than last.

Luckily, we’re charging more to get into and sleep in our parks, so lodging revenue is down only 9% for April and 4% for the year so far; total parks revenue dropped 15% for 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.
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 are down, too, 21% in April and 16% for the first four months of the year, with 51 out of 60 facilities seeing fewer people come through the gates to picnic, fish, hike, ski, birdwatch, or lollygag in our 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, Governor Noem better hurry up and get the federal court to grant her her fireworks party at Mount Rushmore. Or maybe she can pray for a deltacron mutation to drive everyone else back to masks and social distancing so she can lure vacation-hungry covid refugees back to South Dakota. Her parks need more business!

9 Comments

  1. sdslim 2022-05-09

    So let’s destroy a bunch more of Custer state Park with a campground Kristi!!!

  2. larry kurtz 2022-05-09

    Curious that that recent additions to the GFP Commission have yielded such dismal marketing results. Is nothing sacred?

  3. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-05-09

    I’ve no idea what constitutes camping now. I was born in the 1950’s, and if you had cheap parents it meant sleeping on the ground in a clammy sleeping bag, possibly in a tent, or in a camper on the bed of a truck.
    I’m currently 66 y.o. and I won’t venture outside at night to watch eclipses, meteor showers, deer, or even the Second Coming of Christ. There’s a reason I have a house, comfortable bed with several cats, indoor plumbing, decent coffee, and no monthly payments on a $550,000 land yaght.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2022-05-09

    The weather was lousy in April and there’s a hubbub about gas prices…marketing is oversold by the tourism elite…weather and quality facilities bring people out…word of mouth is the best publicity for “outdoors people”.

  5. Cathy B 2022-05-09

    Do you remember how much was the fee increase?

  6. leslie 2022-05-09

    We, my kids, friends’ kids and cousins camped, often along water. The peace and pace that transpired after a few days became a tangible joy. Not today’s glamping. Once a red bellied snake was caught and smuggled in a shoe box, but of course it escaped and created a minor crisis driving home that late Sunday. A call to reptile experts revealed an endangered species so the captor and I drove it back to its rightful place the next day. They retell this and many other stories around campfires to this day.

    A half million dollar yacht however would be nice to share!

  7. grudznick 2022-05-09

    $3, Ms. Cathy.

  8. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-05-09

    Thank you, leslie. I had a hunch I spelled “yacht” wrong. There’s a campground about 1/2 mile from my property that used to be a badly overgrazed sheep “ranch” that now caters to Trumptards, and I made a snide remark in town about the $100,000 campers parked there. I was haughtily rebuked that most of the vehicles cost more than a half million, and that did NOT include the customized matching trailers that carried their ATVs, motorcycles, bicycles, and watercraft. Wasn’t my face red!

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-05-10

    Cathy, I’m not sure which fees got hiked or by how much. But look at the revenue lines: the number of customers is way down, but the revenue is only down slightly. Either we raised fees, or maybe campaing reservations count as revenue received but GF&P isn’t reporting those future stayers in the number column.

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