Branson voters will consider renewing tourism tax on April ballot

Branson voters will decide whether or not to continue to charge tourists more for certain things during their trips.
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 4:17 PM CST
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Branson voters will decide whether or not to continue to charge tourists more for certain things during their trips.

In April, they’ll be asked to renew the current city tourism tax.

“We need people to come to Branson,” Myer Hotels Chief Operating Officer Gail Myer said.

In a town that depends on millions of tourists each year, the extra tax on money spent at tourism-related businesses pays big.

“It’s laid out very specifically in state legislation as to what it goes toward, but it has to do with roads and infrastructure for the City of Branson,” Myer said.

Myer says 75 percent of the money from the tourism tax pays for things like water and sewer needs. He hasn’t heard complaints from guests.

“There is an expectation in today’s world that when people travel, they are going to pay some sort of a tourism tax when they get to a destination that is highly dependent on tourism,” Myer said.

The city tax is four percent on things like shows, attractions, and lodging. It not only pays for infrastructure, but also marketing for Branson.

“If there was ever a time that we don’t disrupt marketing in Branson, now’s the time. We need to keep our name out there nationally,” Dick’s 5 and 10 Co-Owner Steve Hartley said.

Hartley says while this tax isn’t imposed on retail stores, the money it brings in helps businesses like his because a quarter of the revenue pays to market Branson as a tourism destination.

“It does add something to what our visitors are paying but it is for the good of our community,” Hartley said.

With a tough summer season in 2020, many business owners hope to bounce back next year.

“Everybody else is going to be out there and Branson’s brand is perfect for what our visitors are looking for,” Hartley said.

Voters will say yes or no to renewing the tax in April.

“In general, people do not like to pay taxes, but a marketing tax more than pays for itself because it does drive economy,” Myer said.

This city tourism tax is not imposed on purchases at retail stores. However, there is a 0.5 percent charge on restaurant bills.

Again, a “yes” vote would mean a renewal of the current tax, not imposing a new tax.

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