Senator calls tourism release misleading


MITCHELL, S.D. — The state Senate’s top Democrat says the Office of Tourism deliberately misled the public by omitting negative trends from a news release about visitor spending.

The release says visitor spending in South Dakota had grown by 2.8 percent in 2008 to a record $967 million.

State Senator Scott Heidepriem says the office failed to note the “real” change in visitor spending of negative 2.5 percent, which is calculated by subtracting a measure of inflation.

He says it also ignored an estimated loss of 901 tourism-related jobs and a $500,000 decline in state sales-tax collections from travelers.

Tourism officials say the information was omitted to keep the news release consistent with past practices and adhere to standard industry reporting methods.

Spokeswoman Wanda Goodman says the office can’t put everything in every news release, and it never tried to hide the information.