With a degree in communications and sports management, Jason Outman thought he’d found the right fit in sports-facility management.
But as he worked with youth tournaments and other traveling teams, Outman’s eyes were opened to another possibility: tourism.
“What I really liked about getting into this industry was not just the sense of how many visitors we can bring to a location, but about curating a place,” he says. “How do we take what a destination has, the uniqueness, and how can we tell that story and become a storyteller for a destination?”
A newcomer to the area, Outman’s excited to help tell Branson’s story – which he says extends well beyond the famed Highway 76 strip. It’s about the music and shows, for sure, Outman says, but also about the attractions and outdoor adventures, Table Rock Lake boating and resorts, and the golf courses that dot the Ozarks mountains.
Outman also sees Branson as a character in an even larger story.
He would like to partner and combine resources with other chambers and tourism bureaus to attract visitors and investors to the entire southwest Missouri/northwest Arkansas region.
The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce recently developed a 10-year strategic destination plan, including everything from the Branson Airport to new hotels and attractions. But the key to growth, he says, is going to be creating new neighborhoods for workers to live in.
“We’re working with city of Branson and Taney County to find a way to be development friendly so we bring individuals who want to build affordable housing so we can increase our workforce,” Outman says.
Outman says 2021 will be a tough year to beat, but he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“First, with the visitation, we are well ahead of our greatest year ever, which was 2019,” he says, citing over 7.14 million visitors through three quarters this year, 12% higher than the Q3 pace in 2019.
Additionally, the city’s sales and tourism taxes are both trending up double-digit percentages compared with the same periods in 2019.
“We know in 2021, we saw a lot of pent-up demand and maybe families had some extra stimulus money. But we’re trying to maintain those first-time visitor numbers,” Outman says.
Outman says he’s also looking forward to helping sharpen the chamber’s focus and help shape Branson’s future. After a national search by the Branson chamber and CVB, he succeeded Jeff Seifried in early 2021.
“I think in 2022, I’m really looking forward to not being the new kid anymore,” he says, acknowledging the down side of that with a laugh. “I know I’ll probably lose my grace period of doing things and asking for forgiveness later.”
A career pivot for a former human resources professional resulted in Bosky’s Vegan Grill; Neverending Game Store LLC made its second move in as many years; and Mercy Springfield Communities added a second Queen City clinic focused on sports rehabilitation and performance improvement.