BRANSON, Mo. – Tour buses have always had their place here in Branson. Until last year, that is.
One local business owner says last year almost ruined everything.
“Devastating would be the word that I would use to describe it. If the buses aren’t rolling, there’s no income coming in to pay the employees, to pay the drivers…” says Rex Tennyson, owner of USA Tours in Rolla.
He says the motorcoach industry has felt the impact of the pandemic similarly to other travel industries, like cruise ships and airline companies
“There’s millions of people that travel across buses across the nation,” says Tennyson.
Some of those millions of people use tour buses to see different travel destinations like right here in Branson.
“We’ve definitely seen an uptick,” says Branson Motor Coach owner Ken Irvin.
Branson Motor Coach repairs anything and everything on the giant busses.
“We’ve got three engine jobs in here right now, complete overhauls…Oil changes you know stuff like that – tune-ups what not, air systems, brakes,” says Irvin.
Irvin says business started to pick up during the summer, and he’s continuing to see good business in the fall. It’s a good sign for the future of these buses in Branson.
“Tour buses for sure…There’s several tour companies here in town. Diamond tours being chief among them that are very familiar with us and we with them. And so they call, they need something, we jump,” says Irvin.
Tennyson says last year during the pandemic around 90 percent of tour bus drivers in the US were laid off or furloughed.