Branson: Reaping More Benefits

Branson has expanded the S.T.A.R. (Special Tour & Travel Agent Recognition) program of discounts and free admissions for travel agents that it inaugurated in 1996. Qualified agents can apply for an ID card that entitles them to discounts at participating suppliers.

According to Barbara Teter, project coordinator for the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors & Convention Bureau, "There's a lot more available with the card this year. It allows admission to 35 theaters -- often free tickets, sometimes at a discounted rate."

Besides theaters, said Teter, "We have attractions, accommodations, receptive services, restaurants and shopping outlets participating in the program." Seventeen theaters were added in 1997, including such major venues as the Dixie Stampede show.

Teter said most agents find out about S.T.A.R. by word of mouth. Often, agents who come to town are told about the program by hotels and attractions. They then go to the chamber office to get their card.

"We do make sure they're legitimate agents," said Teter; "we require identification like an IATAN card. When they use the S.T.A.R. card they must show their photo identification as well." The S.T.A.R. program also sponsors agent seminars and fam tours.

Following is a sampling of S.T.A.R. participants:
Theaters: Andy Williams Moon River Theatre (free ticket from April through October); Dixie Stampede (free ticket for agents, $12.99 for meal); Pump Boys and Dinettes Dinner Theatre (free ticket, agent must pay for meal); The Wayne Newton Show (free ticket), and The Yakov Smirnoff show (free ticket for agent and guest, 10% off on food).

Accommodations (all subject to availability): Best Western Music Capital Inn (50% off); Crowne Plaza Branson (50% off), and Welk Resort (50% off).

Attractions: Branson Scenic Railway (free ticket for agent and guest); Silver Dollar City (50% off for cardholder and one guest), and Stone Hill Winery (free tours and wine tasting).

Restaurants/Shopping: Some dining and shopping discounts also are available.

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