The Branson chamber and a tourism marketing tax board held a joint meeting last week to discuss challenges and opportunities regarding Branson visitation.
Both the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB and Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District held an informal special joint meeting Friday. In addition to the two organizations, representatives of several area businesses and three Branson aldermen were in attendance.
The TCED collects a 1 cent sales tax in a district that primarily covers Branson, Indian Point, Silver Dollar City, the Showboat Branson Belle and Table Rock State Park Marina. The TCED contracts with the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to market the area.
“We all have a very vested interest and various roles in making people around this country know this is a great place to visit,” said Craig Wescott, of Tracks Family Fun Parks and chairman of the board for the CVB.
“Our goal on the TCED board is to bring more people to the area,“ Derek Smith, chairman of the TCED board said. “Bring more tourists, bring more visitors to the lakes area, because we know once they get here they’ll come back and bring their family and friends.”
When looking at visitation for 2019, discussion looked at severe weather in the region, which has affected areas that normally bring visitation to Branson. An estimation given during the meeting was the area surrounding Missouri, the Midwest and South, have experienced 182 days of flooding.
Smith also noted the ebbs and flows that occur inside tourism markets.
“You can’t always be up I wish we could but that’s not going to happen,” Smith said.
Discussion also included looking at similar markets to Branson, such as Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and comparing visitation.
“The consumer that visits Pigeon Forge, the consumer that visits our attractions there, is far more similar to our own than dissimilar,” Brad Thomas, president of Silver Dollar City Attractions said.
Thomas added his belief in what Branson can offer as a destination can compete with any tourism market, the issue lies in how much marketing dollars are available.
“I think we have to figure out how to raise more money,” Thomas said. “I don’t think Branson lacks, I think we are an incredibly attractive destination.
“Our issue isn’t product, it’s how we go tell our message and get more dollars to spend money on advertising.”
The meeting did not include any motions or votes. Jeff Seifried, president/CEO of the chamber, began the meeting discussing a recent decision by Branson Aldermen to extend it’s current tourism marketing contract with the chamber so it can bring in an expert to analyze the chamber’s marketing.
The meeting itself did not include further discussion of the decision.
The city and the TCED have separate marketing contracts with the chamber.