Branson: Fast Facts February 19, 1998 Share 1 -- Branson is a burgeoning destination, gaining in popularity and reputation. For clients who want to familiarize themselves with the area before they go, agents can offer the following facts. Location: Branson is in the Ozark Mountains of southwestern Missouri. The city is about 13 miles north of the Arkansas state line and 35 miles south of Springfield, Mo.Entertainment: Branson has moved beyond country music to feature such pop entertainers as Andy Williams, Wayne Newton, Tony Orlando and the Platters--many of whom have theaters of their own. Branson has more than 30 live-entertainment venues with 50,000 seats and about 70 live shows a day.Theme Parks: The two parks offer differing styles of entertainment but crafts are a feature at each of them. Silver Dollar City is a turn-of-the-century Ozarks village with more than 100 resident crafters, live entertainment, restaurants and rides.Shepherd of the Hills Homestead and Outdoor Theatre is the home of a long-running outdoor drama, as well as crafts, shops and entertainment.Lodgings: The city has about 22,000 hotel rooms--from national-brand budget hotels to upscale resorts like Chateau on the Lake and Lodge of the Ozarks.Dining: More than 30,000 people can be accommodated in the city's many restaurants, including popular national chains serving regional specialties such as barbecue. Many restaurants accommodate groups. Breakfast, lunch and dinner shows are also a popular venue for meals.Shopping: Three factory outlet shopping centers have become tourist attractions in themselves. Currently, 160 factory outlet stores are open.Outdoors: Before there were entertainers or theme parks, Branson was a destination for outdoors lovers who came for its lakes, rivers, mountains, meadows and valleys. Surrounding lakes offer swimming, boating, fishing, waterskiing, sailing, diving and parasailing.Getting There: There are three major air gateways in Missouri to the Branson area: St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield, Mo.Each city offers numerous attractions of its own, making it feasible for groups to combine destinations. The closest airport is at Springfield, 50 miles away. An airport is being developed at the College of the Ozarks, just over a mile from the Branson "strip."Weather: More and more a year-round destination, Branson is southerly enough to avoid many major snowfalls. In January the average temperature is 31; in April, 56; in July, 78, and in October, 58.>LI>Reservations: Branson officials recommend making accommodations, restaurant and theater reservations six months in advance for groups, especially if arrival is in April, May, June, September or October.Many "one-stop shopping" booking services have opened in the last couple of years so that agents need only call one of these in order to book theaters, attractions, etc. An organization called Branson Area Receptive Association represents many booking services and receptive operators. They may be contacted at: BARA, Box 1102, Branson, Mo. 65616; (800) 880-0013.Tax: There is a 4% municipal tourism tax on accommodations and ticketed attractions, plus a 0.5% tax on restaurant meals.