Eclipse was the largest tourism event in state’s history
The Aug. 21 total solar eclipse attracted more than a million-and-a-half visitors to South Carolina, according to the SC Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. It was the largest tourism event in the state’s history.
The SCDPRT reports that 1.6 million people came to – or traveled within- the state to view the eclipse.
With hotel occupancy rates and and other travel-related spending, the eclipse had a $269 million economic impact on South Carolina, according to the SCDPRT.
South Carolina was promoted as one of the best places in the country to view the eclipse. Much of South Carolina was in the “path of totality” (the area that experienced 100 percent of the eclipse.) Columbia was listed as one of the top three destination in the US for eclipse viewing. And with great weather, and mostly clear skies, the Capitol City did not disappoint.
Visitors from France, Italy, Japan, Colombia, Russia and the UK, among many other places, came to town to see the moon move completely in front of the sun for the better part of three minutes.
Before the eclipse, at an August planning meeting, Columbia City Councilman Howard Duvall said the eclipse had the potential to be the largest event ever for Columbia and the state. State officials agree.
“Not only does this research confirm what our indicators hinted at weeks ago, it puts the picture into sharper focus, adding more definition to the eclipse’s total impact,” said SCDPRT Director Duane Parrish.
The department’s report stated that more than half of the people traveling were South Carolinians who went to another part of the state to view the eclipse.
Close to 800,000 of the visitors were from out of state. Most came from North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The report also said that most people who traveled to, or within, South Carolina to view the eclipse stayed overnight.
Visitors went shopping, dined out, went to the beach and visited historical attractions or engaged in outdoor recreation.
Most people visiting saw the eclipse in the Columbia, Greenville, or Charleston metro areas.
Around 48 percent of out-of-state visitors and one-third of in-state eclipse-viewers indicate they went to a viewing site like a park, a mountain site or the coast for optimal viewing.
About 23 percent of out-of-state visitors and 25 percent of in-state travelers reported participating in an organized solar eclipse event.
Almost all of the respondents reported their experience as “excellent” or “good,” describing their time in South Carolina. Respondents also described viewing the eclipse as “unique,” “amazing,” or “once in a lifetime.” The few “fair” or “poor” ratings were almost all due to poor weather.
Another 3.8 million South Carolinians did not travel, but saw the eclipse in the place where they live.