by: Jacob Blount, Ozarks First
Branson’s Chamber of Commerce and local hotel owners say they were pleasantly surprised with the increase in tourism at the end of 2020.
Grant Sloan, the Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of member engagement, said tax revenue is still 30% down for year to date, but a big push in tourism at the end of the year is giving the chamber hope for the future.
“The town was busy,” said Sloan. “Really right now, it’s just anecdotal. Kind of traffic on the entertainment district, but I think a lot of businesses were pleasantly surprised over these last couple of weeks.”
Gail Myer, COO of Myer Hospitality, said he saw the uptick in tourism for their hotels begin in October of 2020.
“We started in March and April not really knowing what was going on,” said Myer. “And thinking about science, thinking about lockdowns, thinking about those things and that has eased. And really, beginning in October, we saw more folks who came to Ozark Mountain country and were enjoying the attractions and the theaters and our theme parks.”
Myer believes the positive trend will continue in 2021, especially as the nation continues to recover from COVID-19.
“We’re a drive-to destination,” said Myer. “We’re easily accessible to a whole bunch of the nation. We’re value-oriented. The research would say that there are a whole bunch more people want to travel, who have not yet made their reservation.”
Branson is heading into its off-season now, but both Myer and Sloan believe they will see tourism indicators by the spring.