Branson Missouri Profile
The City of Branson (population 7,500; 7.2 million visitors annually and growing) is located in southwest Missouri, 35 miles south of Springfield within the heart of the Ozark Mountains. Branson serves as the job, service and shopping center for a two county area with 70,000 year round residents. Branson is surrounded by three prize winning fishing lakes. The city has an incorporated boundary of over 17 square miles. This city has become the focus of international attention as both a major development area and an entertainment and tourism Mecca. The reasons are numerous and range from the scenic natural beauty of the area to the star studded theaters along Highway 76 with their line-up of major recording artists as well as other family oriented entertainment offerings.
Situated within a days drive of 50% of the U.S. population, Branson and the Tri-Lakes area serves up to 65,000 visitors daily who pump 1.5 billion dollars into the local economy. Branson has been a "rubber tire" destination with the vast majority of tourists arriving by vehicles, RVs and tour buses. However, more visitors are now flying into the area each year. Branson has also become one of Americas top motor coach vacation destinations.
Byways magazine named Branson the top motor coach destination of the entire decade. Byways is a national magazine published by the National Motor coach Network.
Travel author Arthur Frommer listed Branson as one of the "10 Great Summer Drives" for 2003.
The March 2003 "Bassmaster" magazine listed Branson as one of the nine top retirement fishing hot spots in the country.
A geographical profile of Branson visitors shows: 11% come from a radius of 100 miles; 22% from 101-300 miles; and 67% from 301+ miles. The top three motivations for coming to Branson are entertainment and shows, theme parks, and shopping. The average income of the Branson visitor is $55,186 and average age is 57.
Scenic U.S. Highway 65, a north-south highway, is the main route to Branson with over 80% of motorists coming from the north.
The Springfield/Branson Regional Airport, located 45 miles north in Springfield, reports a large increase in air passengers and credits Bransons popularity as a leading reason. More and more visitors are flying into Springfield and renting a vehicle to travel from the airport to Branson. Shuttle services are available from the airport to Branson.
CITY ROAD IMPROVEMENTS
The city has taken the lead in ensuring a pleasant visit by adding new roads in the area. Since 1991, an estimated $40 million as been spent on more than 18 miles of new and reconstructed roads. This network of new roads has been designed to work in concert with improvements to state highways to ease the visitors ability to get to and around the popular MO Highway 76 which is the address of hundreds of theaters, hotels, restaurants and family attractions.
Branson is home to 45 music theaters with seating for 75 to 4,000 people. Bransons 55,967 theater seats are 11,000 more than on Broadway in New York. The variety of music includes country, pop, gospel, bluegrass, western, rock n roll, classical jazz and Broadway. Theres also comedy, magic and variety staging that defy easy labels. Each theater hosts from one to three different shows daily. Collectively, they host more than 80 shows and offer live entertainment from early morning until late evening.
A successful Midwestern family vacation destination for many years, the music industrys rapid expansion in the past decade has launched the community into world-class tourism. Its been called a phenomenon.
Several of the widely known performers who came to this area are now permanent residents and actively involved in the community. In turn, these performers have helped to draw recognition to the immense pool of talent in all of Bransons theaters. Together, they create a diversity and balance to suit every musical taste.
Three big lakes--Table Rock, Taneycomo and Bull Shoals-- offer some of the finest fishing in the nation and any freshwater activity you can imagine. You can enjoy boating, swimming, skiing, sailing, sunning, scuba diving, parasailing and sightseeing.
Excursion boats cruise on Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo providing passengers with breakfast, lunch, dinner or sightseeing.
Famous theme parks draw millions of visitors.
Silver Dollar City , an 1890's Ozarks village inhabited by a colony of unique crafters and artists, features rides and amusements, live comedies, many dining places, dozens of country musicians and an evening music show.
Shepherd of the Hills Homestead and Outdoor Theater is named for one of the most popular novels in publishing history--Harold Bell Wrights "The Shepherd of the Hills." Each evening 70 native players bring Wrights novel to vivid life in the enormous outdoor amphitheater. Celebration City, a multi-themed nighttime park highlighting eras of 20th Century America and featuring a laser production.
White Water, a theme park with a tropical atmosphere, offers a large wave pool, a lazy river for relaxation and several faster, wetter rides for the more adventurous visitor.
Bumper cars, amusement park rides, and many other youthful activities abound for family fun. Browse through several museums, watch wine makers, take a scenic helicopter ride and play a round or two of miniature golf.
Ten golf courses are currently open in the Branson/Lakes Area. Golfing is one of the fastest-growing interests of vacationers, who can enjoy their favorite sport on a choice of courses within just a few miles of each other. Country clubs, pro shops, lessons, restaurants and all amenities are available. And who knows, you may see a familiar face or two teeing off on the next fairway. Many of Bransons entertainers enjoy golf and occasionally can be seen on local courses.
Table Rock Lake is a freshwater fishermans paradise. Fertile waters teaming with an assortment of Americas top sport fish like bass and crappie make it the ideal spot for the novice and serious fisherman alike.
Lake Taneycomo is equally famous as a cold-water trout stream. Rainbow trout abound, and the Missouri Department of Conservation adds to the trout population from a fish hatchery near Table Rock Dam.
Bull Shoals offers much the same recreational opportunity as Table Rock, only a few miles away. Its less densely developed than the Table Rock and Taneycomo areas; however, comfortable resorts and campgrounds are available along its shorelines.
Hikers can enjoy the outdoors on established nature trails that wind through forests and skirt the lakes shorelines.
Spelunking, or cave exploration, is also available in the area.
Bikers will find some designated trails, but bicyclists are frequently seen enjoying sights along highways and rural roads in the lakes area.
Hunters come by the thousands each season for deer, turkey and other game.
For people who prefer to see the outdoors from the comfort of their vehicles, all numbered highways offer scenic vistas of the Ozarks.
Visitors consistently rank shopping among the most popular activities of the area. With three large factory outlet malls, a thriving downtown district and specialty stores throughout the city, shoppers can find contemporary goods and hand crafted items all year round.
In 2005, Branson Landing on the Taneycomo waterfront will open with almost 500,000 square feet of retail space for unique shopping, dining, and entertainment. Brand-name tenants will be mixed with galleries and shops offering regional arts and crafts, as well as specialty retailers. A cross-section of eateries - everything from a large themed restaurant to intimate cafes will serve an array of cuisines and treats.
LODGING & RESTAURANTS
Today, more than 17,850 rooms are available in Branson motels, hotels, resorts, bed and breakfast inns and condominiums. The number of lodging facilities is 201. There are an additional 5,000 rooms in the surrounding unincorporated areas. Room rates range from $25 per night for budget accommodations to $489 for luxurious suits overlooking Table Rock Lake. Seasonal rates and senior citizen discounts apply at many lodgings.
Visitors have an endless variety of restaurants and food establishments from which to choose. There are more than 408 eating establishments with 35,056 seats. Cuisines range from American to international.
Branson is a destination for all sizes and types of conventions. Branson has been host to many convention activities, including both Veteran's and Shriner's conventions. The city is proceeding with a 220,000 square feet downtown convention center with 60,000 square feet of leasable exhibition space, 20,000 square feet for ballroom/banquet rooms, and 15,000 square feet of meeting space on two floors. With an adjoining hotel, Branson will soon be moving toward the top meeting planners' lists as a first-class convention destination. The convention center and hotel are scheduled to open in early 2006.