Tourism season off to early start

Memorial Day officially kicks off tourism season in the Black Hills. But the unusually warm weather has already attracted tourists.

“The kids are beginning their spring break so it’s a nice getaway to break up the winter,” said Denelle Sherman, who is visiting from Wyoming with her two kids.

Business owners say the nice weather is their indication the tourism season will be off to an early and great start.

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“With the nice weather it helped a lot,” said Bruce Uhrig, owner of The Indians in Keystone. “A lot of people from spring break and families come a little earlier because of the nice weather.”

South Dakota tourism increased 1.5% in 2011 compared to the year before and accounting for more than 18.7% of all revenue.

“Last year was good,” said Tom Lange, manager of Reptile Gardens. “We were encouraged. We were down just a few percent compared to the year before.”

“We were close to being the same as last year just a fraction down but it was a very good year,” Uhrig said.

As for rising gas prices detouring summer travel plans at least one traveler doesn’t seem to mind.

“It’s a factor but we try to just plan for that,” Sherman said. “You know the extra cost for the gas and our car is a little bit more fuel efficient.”

Businesses owners say it may be too early to call but from the looks of it this season will be a lot like the last

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