What happens to the body when the heart does not receive a "constant supply of fresh oxygen enriched blood?" The Ole Seagull isn't a doctor so he can't give a medical answer but he feels safe in saying, "The same things that happen to a tourist destination, like Branson, whose marketing does not generate a constant supply of new first time visitors, very little that is good and a lot that could be really really bad."
Marketing is to Branson what the heart is to the body and funding for marketing is what blood is to the heart. It's kind of a "catch 22," even as the heart needs blood to continue pumping the blood so necessary for a healthy body so too does marketing need funding to generate the new first time visitors that Branson needs to maintain and grow its vital tourism industry.
Interestingly enough, one pint of blood going into the heart is one pint of blood coming out of the heart or basically a one for one exchange. On the other hand, the best current estimates are that when the City of Branson, through the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB, its current marketing contractor, spends one dollar on marketing the result is one dollar going in and $24 being generated because of the one dollar marketing expenditure; that's about a 24 to one exchange.
At this point some might say, "If it's such a great deal why don't Branson's businesses pony up the money, why ask the taxpayers to pay for their marketing?" Now the Ole Seagull knows you asked first but let him ask a question before he answers. What happens to the body if the heart does not get enough blood for one reason or another due to injury, clogged arteries, etc? Won't the blood flow out of the heart be reduced with its attendant negative effects on the body?
The same thing happens with marketing. If the marketing program does not get the funding it needs to do what it has to do its efficiency is reduced along with the rate of new visitors and return visitors. Quite simply, the answer to the question is that no major tourist destination, including Branson, can get enough marketing funding from its businesses alone so that those businesses can survive and there will be enough funding for an effective marketing program.
The challenge is to market in a manner that will maintain the health and vitality of the very businesses that provide the reason for tourists to come. The very businesses that provide employment and are the primary economic lynchpin for most of the income generated in the Branson area. That's why every major tourist destination uses taxes, paid primarily by the tourists upon whom their very economic livelihoods are based, to help fund their marketing efforts.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, in the Ole Seagull's opinion, Branson has never had enough money to effectively market what Branson has to offer. If Branson's marketing was a heart it would be on life support simply because there was not enough blood, funding, coming into it to permit it to work effectively.
The good news is that the vast majority of those that Branson's limited marketing reaches, and influences to come to Branson, like Branson and will return. The bad news is that competing destinations like Wisconsin Dells and Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge spend $7 and $11 million respectively compared to Branson's $2.9 million. Given that they are competing for basically the same type of visitor as Branson doesn't it make sense for Branson's marketing to have the funding necessary to market itself competitively and effectively?
On Nov. 8 voters within the Tourism Enhancement District will decide whether or not to provide Branson's "tourism heart," its marketing program, with the funding necessary to effectively market what Branson has to offer. If they vote "Yes" then, for the very first time, Branson will have enough funding to competitively and effectively market Branson.
The easy thing to do is to fluff it off by saying something like, "No way I'm voting for any new tax" or "let them fund their own marketing." The harder and more responsible thing to do is to look at the reality of the situation and how important tourism is to not only the economic well being of our community but the quality of life that all living in the Branson area enjoys.
"Ah Seagull, you don't even live in the district. Why do you have a 'Vote Yes for Tourism' sticker on your car and sign on your front lawn." Please tell me that's a rhetorical question.