South Dakota goes after Minnesota touristsby Cara Hetland, Minnesota Public Radio
It's time to start thinking about your summer vacation. At least that's what tourism officials want you to do. Neighboring states want your tourism dollars and they're paying big bucks to get them.
Sioux Falls, S.D. — When you drive through Minneapolis, you might see a bit of South Dakota.
Creator of the ad campaign, Micah Aberson, says it's designed to get your attention -- especially the pictures wrapped around the light rail cars.
"South Dakota is such a scenic destination and we want to capture that as best we can on the trains," he says, "by showing big panoramic shots of the bad lands, buffalo charging down Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore."
Aberson says trains have been used to advertise Minnesota businesses, but this is the first time to market another state.
"There's so much competition to get the Minnesota traveler to various destinations, that we needed to do something that's a little out of the box, something that will attract attention and that's where the whole idea of wrapping train cars came from," Aberson says.
This is also the first time South Dakota tourism officials have spent so much of their advertising dollar on one state.
About a third of the $11 million budget is to lure Minnesota travelers to South Dakota.
According to Melissa Bump, director of tourism in South Dakota, people are still taking vacations despite the economy and the price of fuel. But over the last several years, Bump says more people are vacationing closer to home.
"We do a car count, (and) Minnesota car counts were up 2007 by 12.5 percent over 2006. Outside South Dakota, Minnesota is the highest market overall for web traffic," she says.
Minnesota residents account for 11 percent of South Dakota's tourists. Last year, South Dakota set a record for visitor spending. Visitors spent $941 million which translates into a total impact of $2 billion on South Dakota's economy.
Minnesota tourism officials also spend millions to lure travelers to the land of 10,000 thousand lakes.
Spokesman Chuck Lennon, says Minnesota tourism ads target 13 states and two Canadian Provinces. Lennon says every state targets regional population centers.
"This isn't the first time South Dakota has been banging around in our home state looking for visitors," Lennon says. "I think they have an infusion of new money and they're doing the smartest thing they possibly can with it and that would be investing it in media here in Minneapolis and St. Paul and that's economic value added here for us."
Lennon says he's just starting to notice the media blitz focusing on South Dakota. He says it'll get people talking.
South Dakota tourism officials have a few more tricks up their sleeve. The Wild West just might come alive soon on a street corner near you.
- All Things Considered, 03/03/2008, 4:45 p.m.