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by Kaylee Hultgren | May 01, 2010
Flying the Frugal Skies
The new Branson Airport opened last May in Hollister, about 10 minutes from the center of Branson. The airport is serviced by low-cost airlines such as AirTran Airways, which offers flights to more than 50 destinations, and Sun Country Airlines, which flies direct from Dallas/Fort Worth and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Airport officials are in the midst of adding more direct service from other low-cost carriers. For instance, last month, Fron­tier Airlines began offering flights to  Branson from more than 20 domestic destinations, including Denver and Las Vegas, at special introductory prices. And this month, Branson AirExpress, partnering with ExpressJet Airlines, inaugurated service to Austin, Texas; Biloxi, Miss.; Des Moines, Iowa; Houston; Nashville; and Shreveport, La. (417) 334-7813; flybranson.com
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Branson
Local Update:  The new 20,000-square-foot
Grandview Conference Center opened last year at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, about a 10-minute ride from Branson. Set in the hills of the Ozarks, the sprawling resort offers a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course (currently under renovation), two spas, a marina, 50,000 square feet of conference space and a garden terrace for outdoor events.

Meeting Hotels:
 Properties in Branson include the 472-room Radisson Hotel Branson, 350-room Thousand Hills Golf & Conference Resort, 319-room Grand Country Inn, 301-room Chateau on the Lake Resort & Spa, 300-room Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel, 243-room Big Cedar Lodge, 219-room Branson Garden Inn, 210-room Honeysuckle Inn & Conference Center, 200-room Grand Plaza Hotel, 190-room Lodge of the Ozarks, 180-room Pointe Royale Condo Resort & Golf Course, 166-room Clarion Hotel and Conference Center, 159-room Welk Resort Branson and 156-room StoneBridge Village & Resort.

Convention Center: Branson Convention Center; exhibit space, 50,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 19; (417) 336-5401; bransonconvention.com

Airport Transit:
Springfield-Branson National Airport, 43 miles north of Branson. Transfer cost by private shuttle, $20 to $80. Branson Airport, 10 miles south of Branson. Transfer by taxi, $60

Taxes: Room tax, 11.6%; sales tax, 8.6%; total tax on hotel rooms, 11.6%

Group Venue: At the Titanic Museum Attraction, more that 400 historical artifacts relating to the fabled ocean liner are on display some 98 years after the infamous maritime disaster. Eerie details of the maiden voyage gone wrong are replicated, as today's "passengers" experience the sensations of freezing ocean water, the chilly surface of an iceberg and the stern commands of the ship's ill-fated captain, all presented via interactive exhibits. For groups, the museum offers several venues for a sit-down or progressive-style dinner of up to 300 guests. (800) 381-7670; titanicbranson.com

CVB Services:
 Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau, (800) 315-8601; explorebransonmeetings.com