Lake area Mayors share county optimism for tourist season

Lake Sun Staff
Lake Sun Leader

The position taken by the Camden County Commission citing optimism for the upcoming tourism season and recovery from the COVID-19 lockdown has been shared by the mayors of lake area communities that experienced heavy losses of sales tax revenue.

Camdenton, Osage Beach and Lake Ozark did not escape the COVID-19 pandemic unscathed. The three largest municipalities in the lake area experienced some declines in sales tax revenue. 

In the wake of widespread publicity, the county commissioners released a statement supporting the efforts of residents and businesses during the stay-at-home orders from preventing a larger outbreak of the coronavirus. That, has in turn positioned Lake of the Ozarks for a strong comeback. 

In their statement, commissioners cited several busy weekends since stay-at-home orders have indicated there is reason to be optimistic about what lies ahead for the summer season. The commission released the statement after Lake of the Ozarks made national headlines for video and photos that circulated showing large groups of partiers at bar pools and lakefront venues raising concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. 

Camdenton Mayor John McNabb agrees with the commission’s assessment. He said he believes people have gotten to the point of needing a release, especially those from Kansas City and St. Louis where there has been more tension. People needed somewhere to go. Obviously, this is business as usual for the lake. While there were concerns about the impact, McNabb said it is exactly what he expected. 

"No one forced them to go to those places. They were ready to accept the responsibility that went with it,” he said. 

McNabb said the local community did support the restrictions and have been cooperative. 

In Osage Beach, where the city has recently made some tough financial decisions in

in the aftermath of the shutdown, Mayor John Olivarri said”I’m pleased that our visitors are back, our Lake area businesses are open and our employees are working.  Even with the large number of visitors over Memorial Day and other recent weekends, the Lake has not experienced the impact of the pandemic seen in other cities and states.”

Olivarri went on to say he does not believe there needs to be any new public health order at this time but emphasized that there needs to be continued monitoring for any cases that might track back to the lake. 

“We should continue monitoring and make adjustments if or when it’s appropriate,” Olivarri said. 

Lake Ozark Mayor Gerry Maruwski said he also believes there is plenty of reason for optimism after the last several weekends. 

“I believe that all lake area counties did a good job. The folks that live at the lake took being cloistered very well. I just hope we never have to do it again.”