Branson, Mo. A new marketing campaign, a specialty museum and a shopping and entertainment district that opened in May helped make 2006 a good year for Branson businesses and hospitality venues.
After several years of attracting an estimated 7 million visitors, the southwest Missouri resort town drew an estimated 7.3 million in 2006.
The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce uses sales and tourism tax figures from the city of Branson and from Taney and Stone counties. It also does 2,800 monthly ZIP code surveys and longer surveys at 35 locations in Branson, and hotel occupancy is reported by national service Smith Travel Research, said chamber spokesman Dan Lennon.
"We don't have a turnstile, and that number is an estimate, but it's pretty much apples-to-apples of things we've compared it to in the past," Lennon said of the visitor numbers.
May saw the grand opening of Branson Landing, a $420 million lakefront shopping and entertainment district with dozens of popular chain stores, specialty shops and places to eat.
Operators of many longtime Branson stores and entertainment spots had worried they would lose customers to the Landing and to the new Titanic Branson museum, a re-creation of the ill-fated ship.