Despite rising gas costs and a rainy prelude to the season, tourism-related organizations and businesses are cautiously optimistic for the upcoming season.

Despite rising gas costs and a rainy prelude to the season, tourism-related organizations and businesses are cautiously optimistic for the upcoming season.

Tri-County Lodging Association Jim Divincen said typically the central location of Lake of the Ozarks benefits from the spike in fuel prices. That's good news considering the Missouri Department of Transportation predicts gas prices will continue to rise in the coming weeks.

"Visitors considering travel to Florida, Arizona, California, Texas and other travel destinations may reconsider their trips due to higher fuel prices.  This would hold true up to a certain price point somewhere around the $4 per gallon mark since all vacation dollars come from discretionary income," he said. "We're still cautiously optimistic about tourism expenditures here at the lake this summer."

At PMG-Lake Ozark Vacations, Chuck Bowman, director of lodging and marketing, said what they are experiencing indicates a good season ahead.

“Our phones are ringing more, our response to email campaigns are better and customers are booking condos and homes for vacations ahead of the past couple years data.  Our golf groups have increased this spring and our summer vacation bookings are ahead of last years numbers," he said. "This is a positive performance indicator for all businesses around the lake."

When lodging revenue is up it means more lodging tax revenue for the TCLA to spend on marketing, advertising and supporting special events. The increase in visitors also means more people shopping, dining, boating, golfing and spending money in businesses around the lake, he said.

One of the advantages the lake has, Bowman said, is how the various organizations, the chambers of commerce, the convention and visitor bureau, the Tri-County Lodging Association and many of our business owners and leaders in the community have been working together to make the lake a draw for visitors year round.

Bowman said gas prices are a concern for everyone whether you are a visitor or a local.

From his perspective consumers are going to look for those destinations that are not only close but for destination where they can save money.

"We have some very talented people in leadership positions throughout this business community and working as a team toward common goals is the key to our growth in the future," he said. "This is the perfect vacation spot and very affordable. we have something to do for any age group. The Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes anywhere in the U.S. with 1,150 miles of shoreline to cruise, fish, swim, ski or simply pull into a cove and relax. We have fantastic golf courses, water parks, marinas, go kart tracks, miniature golf and music shows. We have the state parks, caves, museums, shopping, great restaurants and plenty of events planned all year long to entertain our guests. It is a great place to bring family and friends for a memorable vacation."

Historically increased gas prices have caused individuals within a day's drive of the Lake of the Ozarks to stay closer to home and potentially travel to the centrally located destinations. Convention and Visitor Bureau Director Tim Jacobsen said. 

"The lake is a day's drive from more than half the U.S. population so we are optimistic that the Lake will see its fair share of visitors," he said. "If we are faced with increased gas prices and inclement weather over the weekends we will be less optimistic. Over the past few years, we have seen the trend of visitors making less trips, staying fewer days and spending less money which we feel is a direct impact of the overall economy."

Contact Lake Media Editorial Director Joyce L. Miller at