RAPID CITY, S.D. — After a down tourism year in the area due to the pandemic, local business development and travel agencies are finding a way to bring people back.
Earlier this week, Governor Kristi Noem signed Senate Bill 162, which will grant the Rapid City Regional Airport $1.9 million for restoring flight routes, business development and air service marketing.
Elevate Rapid City and the airport will have four years to spend the money, which will offset risks for carriers looking to bring their routes to Rapid City.
The airport will look to take advantage of certain seasonal flights, like the eight which are specifically being incorporated for the Sturgis rally.
“There’s a target demographic that likes to drive here for a road trip, it’s often from the Wisconsins, the Michigans and the Minnesotas, so having an Appleton route makes sense, right, because those folks are already driving here for their road trip vacation for a couple weeks,” said Tom Johnson, the President & CEO of Elevate Rapid City. “So if we can get them to fly, it makes a lot of sense.”
Johnson says that flights will also need to focus on areas other than business development and tourism. Routes that could bring people from our nation’s capital.
“We think we’re focusing mostly on the west coast to bring companies here, but also again that Washington D.C. Route because of our air force connections and because of our military and federal government connections, we think that Washington D.C. route is a very valuable route,” Johnson said.
A concern shared by the airport.
“We don’t want to take a city that would burn up the grant in short order because it’s not well traveled, so looking at those carriers, those routes that really make sense for the business market, for the tourism market and for the military market as well,” said Patrick Dame, the Executive Director of the Rapid City Regional Airport.
Money being used to give the local flight and business industry a boost.