By: Gary J. Groman, News Correspondent
On Jan. 8, 2019, Rachel Wood, Chief Marketing Officer for Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau’s(CVB) presented the CVB’s 2019 Marketing Plan to the Branson Board of Aldermen (BOA). The CVB has contracts with both the City of Branson and the Tourism Community Enhancement District (TCED) “to market and promote Branson as a tourist destination through strategies and tactics which produce measurable success for the City and District as a whole.”
Through that contract, the City of Branson, uses money from the collection of its Tourism Tax, about 1% of the 4% tax collected, and the CVB to market Branson. Except for some local adjustment, the bulk of the funds are spent to help accomplish the objectives of the CVB’s Marketing Plans. Among other things, that plan contains a forecast for a slightly higher rate of visitations, a list of the things that appeal most about Branson to potential visitors, and the actions that will be taken to market and promote Branson.
Later in the meeting, in accordance with that contract, the BOA approved a marketing budget of $3,300,000 for the period Jan 1-Dec. 31, 2019. Of that amount $729,980 is a roll over from 2018 leaving $2,570,020 in 2019 funds. That amount also includes $75,000 for the marketing of “Historic Downtown” and $25,000 for “Veteran’s Programs.”
Leisure Travel Outlook Nationally and For Branson
The Plan states that “travel and tourism continue to grow across the United States,” but that the growth is slowing. It points out that while the national rate of leisure travel “increased at a brisk pace from 2012- 2016, about 2.7%, it slowed down in 2017, to about 1.8%, and in 2018 to about 1.9%. The Plans “extended forecast through 2020 shows leisure travel increasing by 1.6% and business travel increasing by 1.3%.”
As to Branson particularly the report said, “”Branson’s situation is still evolving. Visitation increased at a brisk pace from 2012- 2016, however it slowed in 2017. While the market enjoyed a strong start to the year, increasing by an estimated +2.9% in the first quarter of 2017, April was unusually slow and despite small increases in both May and June the area was down slightly at the end of 2017. In 2018, the market shows consistent growth over 2017. At the end of the 3rd Quarter in 2018, visitation was up 1% over 2017 levels.”
Branson’s Key Appeals
In listing Branson’s “Key Appeals” the Plan highlights Branson’s wholesome and authentic environment, American values, reasonable prices, and that it’s within a day’s drive of one-third of the country’s population. In terms of things that people do, “it highlights the variety of Branson’s live shows, Branson’s three spectacular lakes and exciting outdoor recreation opportunities, and Branson’s world-class theme park-Silver Dollar City.” Neither the Branson Landing nor shopping was listed.
Lamar Patton, the owner of Scotty’s Trout Dock, located in the southeast end of the City Campground was at the meeting. When asked about the appeal of the lakes he pointed out, that in addition to the other great aquatic activities they offer, they provide some of the best fresh water fishing available anywhere. He said, ” Not many regions can boast the diverse fisheries we enjoy in the Branson area. Bass, walleye, striper, crappie, yellow perch, and catfish on Table Rock and Bull Shoals Lakes, and one of the finest trout fisheries anywhere on Lake Taneycomo. It may not be something everyone wants to do for a whole week, but then neither are most of the local area attractions. It compliments any family activity that folks come to enjoy in the area.”
The Plan says that while Branson’s live shows are one of Branson’s “Key Appeals” that, compared to the same time frame in 2017, the 69% of Branson visitors seeing live shows in 2018 represents a 2% drop from 2017’s 71%. The 3.3 shows that the visitors reported seeing in 2018 was about the equal to that of 2017. One of the Plan’s Primary Goals is to “advocate for a comprehensive evaluation of the theatre industry.”