BRANSON, Mo. -- Post-Sept. 11 travel patterns, efforts to court a younger generation and boost its reputation as a wholesome place are adding up to Branson's best year ever.
An estimated record 8.2 million people visited the southwest Missouri tourism hotbed this year, and that brought in record revenue from sales and tourism taxes.
Revenue from the city's 1 percent sales tax were $8.1 million, a 2.49 percent increase over 2001. Tourism taxes brought in $10.9 million, up 9.13 percent.
Construction in the city also is up, with $58.1 million this year compared to $41.3 million a year ago.
The Branson officials' estimate of 8.2 million visitors represents a nearly 14 percent increase from 2001, according to figures from D.K. Shifflet, a national research study.
It's very different from the mood in Branson two years ago, when a market study showed visitor numbers slid from 7 million in 1999 to 6.86 million in 2000.
Also in 2000, the number of families visiting Branson was the lowest in a decade. This year, younger families represented about 35 percent of visitors.