In a word, “Yes.” Will it make or break Branson’s future, “No,” but then there are basically only three things an Ole Seagull believes could “break” Branson’s future.
Those would be the loss of Silver Dollar City as Branson’s major attraction, inadequate marketing of all that makes Branson such a special destination, and a drastic deterioration in the viability and quality of the live shows and entertainment that give Branson its uniqueness and distinguish it from the vast majority of tourist destinations in America. In an Ole Seagull’s opinion, almost anything else, including the airport, pales in comparison,and becomes irrelevant.
Routinely folks ask the Ole Seagull what he thinks is going to happen to the airport. The cancellation of the Cincinnati flights has resulted in another spurt of questions about its continued operation and financial viability. An Ole Seagull would confess that he doesn’t have any insider information, but that said, based on his personal experiences, knowledge, and observations, he feels relatively confident in stating the following:
- Optimistic: The airports founders and management team are some of the most optimistic people the Ole Seagull has ever met. While some believe that realistically they can’t make it; the Ole Seagull is going to go with Colin Powell on this one. In pointing out that “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier,” he said, “Spare me the grim litany of the ‘realist’; give me the unrealistic aspirations of the ‘optimist’ any day.”
- Persistency: The folks at Branson Airport are going to continue doing what they set out to do, operate an airport. From the very beginning, they have persistently demonstrated a resiliency and flexibility that is remarkable, responded to every challenge, and, even with a blow like the loss of Southwest, are still providing direct air service to Branson.
- Relationships: They will continue working to develop relationships, within the community and the airline industry in an effort to find a carrier that will interline with a major carrier and provide the number of flights and passenger capacity necessary to not only maintain the airports financial viability, but be of an economic benefit to the Branson area.
- Financial Viability: One of the questions the Ole Seagull is asked the most is, “Can the airport make it financially?” How could an Ole Seagull know the answer to that question and why would he care? It’s not his or the city’s money at risk. It’s the investors that are furnishing the money for the day to day operation of the airport and those who purchased the original bonds that have the risk. From his perspective, the net effect of the airports finances is that Branson has a beautiful, relatively new, operating airport, with all of the potential that represents.
- Branson Airport and Branson’s Future: The Branson Airport can be, as is the case with Branson Landing; the Branson Convention Center; Branson’s attractions; the Downtown Restoration and Spirit of 76 projects; working with the Springfield-Branson National Airport to get lower fares and better transportation between it and Branson; and other things, an important element of Branson’s future. When factored in with Silver Dollar City, adequate marketing, and Branson’s fantastic live shows, they total up to an evolving, viable, and exciting tourist destination that is optimistically preparing for the future while relying on the heritage of its past and continuing to provide its guests with a great experience.