Visitors returning to Springfield at record pace

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 4:28 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2021 at 5:50 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Ozarks is becoming a popular travel destination this summer. For those in the travel industry, the uptick in tourism is obvious.

The Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau says, just this year, they’ve already had three record months.

John Horner and his wife started by renting out their small guest house as an Airbnb about 10 years ago. For the last few years, they’ve also rented a large house, in their family for 130 years. “We enjoy the hospitality and we enjoy sharing our home,” Horner says.

Their daughters have two more Airbnb homes, and they’re all now busier than ever. They’re even spacing out bookings just to give themselves a break.

“Particularly, it seems like just in the last two or three months, it’s come back much greater,” Horner says.

The Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau says visitors are coming back in big numbers.

“Currently, we are on pace to have the best year on record, which if you would have asked me 6 months ago if that would have been possible, I would have thought you were crazy,” says Tracy Kimberling, Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO.

Right now, about 5,000 people are coming to Springfield for the Goldwing Road Riders rally.

“We did a two-day ride just so it’d be comfortable or whatever, but it’s 638 miles from my house to here,” says Michael McDonald.

Michael and Beatrice McDonald, from Houston, Texas, had been staying home because of covid.

“Time to get out! After a year and a half, it was time to get out,” McDonald says.

The CVB says Springfield’s recent covid spike may have affected the rally’s turnout.

“It’s a little too early to tell if that has had any impact on overnight travel,” says Kimberlin.

“We’ve had our shots and everything, figured we’d be okay,” McDonald says.

“We would love to see more people in Springfield get vaccinated,” says Kimberlin. “You know, I think in the case of the Goldwing Road Riders, probably more of them are vaccinated than our own population.”

The CVB says the pandemic has caused a lot of pent-up demand for travel. Their ad campaigns may have also helped.

“It’s great to see crowds of people again, and we hope to continue seeing them in the future,” says Kimberlin.

Horner and his family can attest, visitors are back, especially heading into the Fourth of July weekend.

“We’re all occupied with motorcycle riders,” Horner says.

The CVB says they’re also asking people to be patient, as hotels and restaurants are short-staffed and struggling to serve all the visitors.

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