Visitors return to Springfield at record pace

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – The Ozarks are becoming a popular travel destination this summer. For those who work in the travel industry, the rise in tourism is evident.

According to the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, this year alone they have already had a record three months.

John Horner and his wife started out by renting out their tiny guesthouse on Airbnb about 10 years ago. In recent years, they have also rented a large house, in their family for 130 years. “We value hospitality and we love to share our home,” says Horner.

Their daughters have two other Airbnb homes and they are all busier than ever. They even space out the reservations just to give themselves a break.

“Particularly, it seems like in the last two or three months he’s come back a lot more,” says Horner.

The Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau reports that visitors are returning in large numbers.

“Right now we’re on the verge of having the best year ever on record, and if you had asked me 6 months ago if it would have been possible, I would have thought you were crazy,” says Tracy Kimberling, Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO.

Currently, approximately 5,000 people travel to Springfield for the Goldwing Road Riders rally.

“We did a two day hike just to be comfortable or something, but it’s 638 miles from my home so far,” says Michael McDonald.

Michael and Beatrice McDonald, of Houston, Texas, had stayed home because of the covid.

“It’s time to get out! After a year and a half, it was time to get out, ”says McDonald.

The CVB says Springfield’s recent spike in covid may have affected participation in the rally.

“It’s a little too early to say if this has had an impact on overnight travel,” Kimberlin says.

“We had our shots and stuff, we thought it was going to be okay,” McDonald says.

“We would like to see more people in Springfield get vaccinated,” Kimberlin says. “You know, I think in the case of the Goldwing Road Riders, they’re probably more than our own people getting vaccinated.”

The CVB says the pandemic has caused a lot of pent-up travel requests. Their advertising campaigns may have also helped.

“It’s great to see crowds of people again, and we hope to continue to see them in the future,” Kimberlin says.

Horner and his family can attest to that, visitors are back, especially with the July 4th weekend approaching.

“We’re all busy with bikers,” says Horner.

The CVB says it also asks people to be patient, as hotels and restaurants are understaffed and struggle to serve all visitors.

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