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Summer vacation is just around the corner and families across the Ozarks are looking for destinations at which to spend some quality time together. Local travel experts say despite the poor economy, people still happen to be making vacations a priority. KSMU’s Kristian Kriner reports.
Local travel agents say now that the economy is stabilizing somewhat, more and more people are taking a well-needed vacation in or outside of Missouri.
Donna Cambridge is the co-owner and president of Chesterfield Cruise and Travel.
She says last year, the travel industry was in a slum, but she says since January of this year, things have really picked up.
“We picked way up and that stayed so booking into the summer months. A lot of them have saved and a lot of people just said ‘Okay, I’ve been planning this year. I’ve worked very, very hard all year. I’m going to take my family and do something special,’” Cambridge said.
Cambridge says cruise and flight tickets are cheaper than they’ve been in years.
She says as a result, more people are deciding to travel outside of the U.S. than in previous months.
“Go ahead and travel. Take that trip. Usually when they’re on sale, that’s a good time to go. Secondly, when you have the ability to go, you’re health is there, you have family and friends to see. Go ahead and take advantage of those things,” Cambridge said.
Cambridge says with gas prices on the rise again now, she expects that airfares will start to rise again.
Travel right here in Missouri also appears to be increasing after a tourism lull last year in places like Branson.
Lynn Berry is the director of public relations for the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau.
She says this spring, the bureau has seen a major increase in visitors compared to this time last year.
“For this year, we have our demand for rooms is up 20 percent. Our visitors and now mind you; we don’t have a turnstile out on Highway 76, but we do a lot of interviews and we do count visitors. And we say right now that we estimate our visitors are up 14 percent,” Berry said.
Berry says the number of people requesting information from the tourism bureau’s website is up 127 percent from last spring.
She says several shows and attractions in Branson are offering cheaper deals to continue to bring more people back to Branson.
Berry says there are also some free things families can do in the area.
“Our beautiful trails in and around Branson Landing. We have a fire and water fountain show that goes off every hour on the hour with music and lights,” Berry said.
She says she is optimistic that tourism will continue to rise in Branson, because families can always find something to do whether they have a lot of money to spend or not.
For KSMU News, I’m Kristian Kriner.