Background, Legislation and Tax Rates
The Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District (BLATCED) was established by a Taney County ordinance in 2001. Specific legislation was enacted and later revised to govern the District. Voters within the Tourism District approved a 1% sales tax to be utilized for marketing the area in November 2005. Tax collection began on April 1, 2006. That original ballot included a 10-year tax sunset. On April 8, 2014 District voters approved renewal of this 1% tourism marketing tax for an additional 10-year period by a vote of 1,195 (77%) in favor and only 363 (23%) opposed. Therefore, District tax collections will continue uninterrupted through September 30, 2025. (The District’s enabling legislation can be found at: RSMo Sec. 67-1950 – 67.1979. See link below.)
The BLATCED tax was designed to minimize the impact on local residents by including numerous exemptions. The BLATCED tax is NOT collected on:
- Groceries (defined as packaged and vended food; and items obtainable with food stamps per federal program requirements)
- New or used motor vehicles
- Trailers, boats or other outboard motors
- All utilities, telephone and wireless services
- Funeral services
Reference: RSMo Sec 67.1959 and Sec 144.014-144.525
- Motor fuel or special fuel subject to an excise tax of this state.
Reference: RSMo Sec 144.030(1)
- All sales of insulin and prosthetic or orthopedic devices, hearing aids and hearing aid supplies and all sales of drugs which may be legally dispensed by a licensed pharmacist only upon a lawful prescription of a practitioner licensed to administer those items.
Reference: RSMo Sec 144.030(18)
City of Branson Tourism Tax
Prior to formation of the BLATCED, the City of Branson had implemented a 4% city-wide tourism tax for the purposes of destination marketing (25%) and infrastructure improvements and maintenance (75%). Since that tax was collected on attractions, theater admissions and restaurants, those entities within the city limits already collecting 1% for destination marketing were excluded from the new Tourism District tax. However, all retail sales outlets within the city collect and remit the 1% Tourism District tax to help support the flow of area visitors to their doors.
A seven-person, volunteer Board of Directors, appointed by elected officials from within the District, oversee the spending of BLATCED tax dollars for the purpose of promoting tourism to the area. The directors’ terms of service are staggered, with each director serving a three-year term beginning October 1 and ending on September 30. The City of Branson appoints three directors, the Village of Indian Point appoints two, and Taney and Stone Counties have one appointment each.
Expertise and Support
Since its formation, the Tourism District Board of Directors has proactively sought the input and advice of experts throughout our community. Even before the tax was approved by voters, an advisory council was established, and in 2006 that group was reinstated and asked to assist with the development and review of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to secure administrative services for the District’s marketing programs.
The BLATCED Board receives input and recommendations from the District Marketing Council (DMC), a volunteer group of marketing, advertising, sales and public relations professionals within the community, selected by a joint committee of the Tourism District, the Chamber of Commerce and the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). The DMC meets at least bi-monthly to review and recommend destination marketing programs and monitor progress. They provide guidance, oversight and expertise regarding marketing strategy, planning and destination development opportunities for our region. The business leaders who serve on the DMC have a vested interest in the effective marketing of our area and are committed to making the entire Branson/Lakes area stronger and more successful.
The BLATCED’s Board of Directors also relies on an appointed Financial Oversight Committee to provide input and recommendations regarding the budgeting, financial, banking, insurance and audit functions of the Tourism District. Their primary role is to provide business expertise, outside perspective and critical oversight for the important and significant financial management efforts of the Tourism District. This volunteer group is always chaired by the current Board of Directors’ Treasurer and includes two additional Board members plus four independent individuals from the community. The Board depends on this group to review the details of contracts, audits and many other significant financial efforts of the Tourism District.
For more information on current Board and Committee membership, click here.
Shortly after voters approved the one-cent sales tax in November 2005, the Tourism District Board, with considerable assistance from their marketing advisors, developed and distributed a request for proposals (RFP) to identify the best organization to provide marketing expertise and administration for the Tourism District’s marketing programs. After a nationwide search, the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau was selected to serve in this capacity.
The CVB was chosen for four primary reasons:
- Our own CVB had history, experience and in-depth knowledge of our area that far exceeded any other bidder.
- As a non-profit, community-based organization, the CVB invites and encourages the involvement of Tourism District constituents.
- As an official Destination Marketing Organization recognized by the State of Missouri Department of Tourism, our CVB can access approximately $475,000 annually in matching funds from the state.
- No private organization that responded had the ability to provide the full range of services performed by our experienced and established CVB, which also utilizes several industry specialists to fulfill the creative, media buying, publicity and other specific marketing roles.
The first contract was completed and signed in October 2006 for a duration of three years with the possibility of an extension or new contract upon notice prior to its expiration. In April 2009, the Tourism District Board of Directors initiated an in-depth review of the marketing contract. A task force of the Board evaluated the contract effectiveness in five areas: service delivery, relationship management, contract administration, seeking improvement and managing change. The task force noted several areas for improvement and recommended that the Board enter into negotiations to continue its relationship with the CVB. Negotiations continued through August 2009 when a new contract was recommended and ultimately approved by the Board. The new contract term was established from October 1, 2009 through December 31, 2014 (3 months and 5 years), subject to annual renewal and budgetary appropriation. That term included a 3-month period from October 1 through December 31, 2009 to accommodate the District’s change from a fiscal to a calendar year.
In 2014, a new marketing administration RFP was issued nationwide. Fifteen entities expressed interest and some 50 followup questions were responded to online. Thereafter, 6 entities participated in a pre-bid conference. The task force review/evaluation process was then repeated and a contract award recommendation made to the Board. Although 3 promising candidates made the final cut, only the CVB provided the full complement of required services and support as well as the professional staff to develop and administer appropriate marketing programs for the District. A new 5-year contract with the CVB was negotiated and became effective on January 1, 2015.
This marketing administration RFP process was repeated in 2019 resulting in three responses, only one of which met all the required parameters. Once again, only the CVB provided the expertise, local knowledge and professional staff to administer the contract. This new contract became effective April 1, 2020 for a 3-year period and is subject to annual renewal and budgetary appropriation. Click here for the current marketing contract.
By-Laws and Legislation
By-Laws (PDF) – Current By-Laws of the Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District.
Legislation (PDF) – Enabling Legislation to establish the Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District.