Get a Hartford Courant subscription for less than 29 cents per day

Dennis Daugaard

Officials: South Dakota drew 13.7 million visitors in 2015

About 13.7 million visitors to South Dakota spent nearly $3.8 billion in in 2015, officials said Thursday in calling it a strong year for one of South Dakota's most important industries.

Low gas prices and landmark anniversaries such as the 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the 50th Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup helped draw tourists, Secretary of Tourism Jim Hagen said. But he said visitor levels apart from those events stayed strong into the fall for a "tremendous year."

"You can feel it in the air," Hagen said. "It's palpable when you're having a good summer."

Gov. Dennis Daugaard said the number of visitors increased by nearly 3...