‘Nomadland’ Gives South Dakota A Tourism Boost, Small Businesses See Sale Increases


The Oscar-winning film, “Nomadland,” has helped the state of South Dakota to receive an increase in tourism and bring an increase in sales to small businesses after millions watched the Chloé Zhao production. 

Many attractions and locations that are shown in the film are real businesses in South Dakota, and even the state’s Tourism Department expects more visitors to come through over the next few months. 

“Overall, what you’ll find is we certainly noticed that film drives a great amount of inspiration for consumers,” said Katlyn Svendsen, global media and public relations director for the department.

The movie follows a widow named Fern who travels the West while living in her van. During her time on the road, she works odd jobs at Badlands National Park, Wall Drug Store and Reptile Gardens.

Reptile Gardens animal park, a zoo located in Colonial Pine Hills, has already reported more traffic than usual, the Rapid City Journal reported on Saturday. Terry Phillip, a curator at the Gardens, explained that he spent a whole day with the filming crew and believes “Nomadland” made a positive impact on South Dakota. 

“You can’t go wrong with that in any way, shape or form,” Phillip said.

Another business, Wall Drug Store, reported that sales increased 114% over 2019 and 92% year-to-date for 2020 after being approached by the film in 2018, Chairman Rick Hustead reported. 

“If it was up 10% we’d be happy, but these are extraordinary numbers,” he said. “I think we’re going into a huge season. It will have a very good impact on business this summer,” he said.

“Nomadland” won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress Academy Awards. The film is currently on Hulu, which viewers can stream for free with a subscription. 

A less familiar crop of nominees were competing at the 2021 Oscars ceremony, where Chloe Zhao's "Nomadland" was the big winner A less familiar crop of nominees were competing at the 2021 Oscars ceremony, where Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland” was the big winner Photo: POOL / Chris Pizzello


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