Simply put, if Branson is to continue to be successful, ideas like the “Miss USA Pageant,” a pie contest and Christmas lights will play an important part. Not by themselves necessarily, but certainly in terms of the promotion of Branson, general concepts and the thought process each represents.
It’s pretty simple in economic terms, based on Branson’s current economic foundation of tourism. Branson’s future success depends on the same thing that has brought it this far, getting people to come to Branson and spend money. The more people that come and spend money the more economically successful Branson is going to be.
Marketing, including advertising and promotion, is what brings a lot of people to Branson initially and helps to make them want to return. Marketing presents Branson to as many potential visitors as possible in a way that will interest them in either coming to Branson initially or wanting to return.
For years people have been saying we need something new etc. Yet, whenever someone proposes spending marketing dollars on something new such as the “Miss USA Pageant,” “As the World Turns,” “The Great American Pie Show,” “Christmas lights,” etc. there are those who spring up with their reasons on why marketing dollars should not be spent on them.
Let’s be very clear, there is no statutory restriction on spending the proceeds of either of the two different tourism taxes used to market Branson to any specified distance from Branson, using the funds to work with for profit businesses, or promoting local events. Specifically, the law governing the expenditure of such funds by the Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District (TCED) simply states that the tax proceeds “shall be used by the board for marketing, advertising, and promotion of tourism.” The city of Branson’s law governing the use of the tax proceeds states, “shall be used, upon appropriation by the municipality, for tourism marketing and promotional purposes.”
The terms “marketing” and “promotion” are very general terms and in application, particularly with the term “promotion,” are more an art than a science. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if those having the responsibility for marketing and promoting Branson believe that an event, such as the “Miss USA Pageant,” “As the World Turns,” “The Great American Pie Show,” a trout tournament, a BBQ Festival or softball tournament etc. or putting up Christmas lights, will “promote tourism,” it is a legitimate expenditure of those funds.
It’s one thing to say an expense is legal and another to ask if it makes marketing or promotional sense. To an Ole Seagull it means not one iota whether or not the “The Great American Pie Show” made a million dollars or lost $100,000. What’s important to him is will it and its associated promotion bring more people to Branson over the long run? To him the expenditure for Christmas lights helps promote the very Christmas our area is spending millions to market and by helping to enhance the experience of the people coming in response to that marketing will promote more of them coming back to Branson in the future.
In that regard, everyone, including an Ole Seagull has an opinion and is certainly free to express it. However, as we express those opinions let us be reminded of the words of Abraham Lincoln, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher” and the words of the world’s greatest philosopher, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”