Branson tourism leaders look back on tough summer, look to fall for improvements

Tax revenue for the month of June was down 45 percent in Branson.
Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 4:57 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Leaders of Branson’s vacation industry are hoping for a big boost this fall after sweating out a lackluster summer.

"There's a virus out there and safety is a concern. So, people are going to make their decisions based on if they're willing to travel, how safe are they going to be?" Chamber of Commerce & CVB Interim President Jonas Arjes said.

Arjes says with fewer people willing to travel, tax revenue for the month of June was down 45 percent in Branson.

"It is survival mode, really. Our businesses are just like everyone throughout the country and the world," Arjes said.

One of the hardest hit areas of tourism is lodging.

"Occupancy went down to 30 percent of what it was last year," Myer Hotels Vice President of Operations Gail Myer said.

Myer says his six Branson hotels are suffering an even bigger loss in group sales.

"The group cancellation rate is still about 80 percent," Myer said.

They have implemented extra safety measures at the hotels. He says, as the summer went on, individual bookings gradually went up.

"Travel is slowly getting back to normal with individuals," Myer said.

As seasons change, he's hopeful more things will fall into place.

"In the fall, we have the Aquarium at the Boardwalk opening in Branson, the pumpkin festival at Silver Dollar City. Those are very strong offerings," Myer said.

However, the tourism of Branson will continue to largely depend on the virus.

"If you look at the national, seven day rolling average, if that maintains a decline, I think we are going to see more people willing to take a trip," Arjes said. "If that's the case, we are positioned very well to host those folks."

Arjes says some businesses have fared better than others. Outdoor attractions, where social distancing is easier, are doing better than indoor attractions.

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