PIERRE, S.D. • The South Dakota Department of Tourism will host the 2021 Governor’s Conference on Tourism for two days later this month, on Jan. 20-21.

The conference is now accepting registrations for anyone interested in tourism, marketing and hospitality. Conference attendees will be able to register to participate virtually or for limited in-person attendance.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Onward!” and acknowledges the challenges the industry has faced over the past year while providing encouragement to stay determined through 2021 and beyond.

“We have a phenomenal panel of nationally respected industry experts joining us to speak at this year’s conference,” said Jim Hagen, Secretary of the Department of Tourism. “Speakers will touch on the latest marketing trends, consumer travel intentions, and how to navigate the tourism industry in 2021 and beyond.”

The governor’s closing remarks on Thursday, Jan. 21, will honor and recognize industry members for their contributions to tourism in the state and reveal the 2020 economic impact of the tourism industry in South Dakota. The department said the following awards will be presented:

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  • The Ben Black Elk Award recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the state’s tourism industry.
  • The A.H. Pankow Award recognizes a member of the media or public relations industry who has provided exceptional coverage of South Dakota.
  • The George S. Mickelson Award honors a business/organization that shows an outstanding dedication to excellence in customer service.
  • The Peter Norbeck Excellence in Tourism Innovation Award honors a member of the South Dakota tourism industry for innovative marketing or new additions/improvements to their business or attraction that elevate the visitor experience.
  • The Ruth Ziolkowski Outstanding Hospitality & Customer Service Award recognizes individuals who provide remarkable customer service and demonstrate an outstanding spirit of hospitality, warmth and genuine kindness to visitors.
  • The Rooster Rush Cacklin’ Community Award honors a community for fostering support of the Department of Tourism’s fall Rooster Rush campaign.

The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The Department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen. For more information about the conference or to register, visit www.SouthDakotaTourismConference.com.