by Steven Ertelt
September 18, 2006
Pierre, SD (LifeNews.com) — Abortion advocates nationwide launched a travel boycott against the state of South Dakota earlier this year after the state legislature approved a ban on virtually all abortions in the state. Despite the boycott, state officials report that tourism appears to have increased this year.
Following the ban, abortion advocates called for a South Dakota tourism boycott. They didn’t want families to visit national landmarks like Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills and the Badlands, the Crazy Horse memorial, and the state’s famous Corn Palace.
An effective tourism boycott could have crippled the state as tourism is the second largest industry in South Dakota, behind agriculture, and annually brings in more than $800 million in revenue.
But state Tourism Director Billie Jo Waara told the Associated Press that the two main state taxes used to measure tourist activity were both up substantially in June and July, shortly after abortion advocates announced the boycott.
"I think what we’re seeing is that despite the worry people had about the boycott, we haven’t seen that it’s had an impact on travel in South Dakota," Waara said.
"We did not hear that people canceled their reservations or their actual travel plans based on the boycott," she added.
Bill Honerkamp of the Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes Association in Rapid City, told AP that the number of visitors at tourist attractions in South Dakota was up about 4 percent in April and May from the same period last year.
He told AP the number of visitors dropped in the summer but he believes the decline was due to high gasoline prices at the time, concerns about the economy and temperatures going above the 100 degree mark in the state during that time period.
"The national [abortion] boycott never really amounted to anything. At least we can’t see anything, any results from it," Honerkamp said. "It does not seem to have affected us."
Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Women’s Medical Fund, a Wisconsin pro-abortion group that called for the boycott, told the Associated Press she thinks South Dakota officials are lying about the figures.
"I have no hard statistics for you on our boycott, but I know people are boycotting South Dakota," Gaylor told The Associated Press. "They may be putting on a rosy front, but there has to have been damage."
Gaylor said her group is continuing to call for a boycott of the state despite the efforts of abortion advocates to defeat the ban at the polls this November.