Just How Much Did the Solar Eclipse Impact South Carolina?
Thursday, September 21st, 2017
Duane Parrish, Director, SC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism
What an exciting moment it was in South Carolina when a total solar eclipse darkened the skies for a few minutes. For this rare celestial event, we hosted people from multiple states and countries , enjoyed round-the-clock media coverage and engaged in social chatter, including an Instagram challenge between Gov. Henry McMaster and Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon. All of this helped strengthen the brand of South Carolina as a great destination for vacations.
But just how much did this historic event impact the state?
The short answer is we don’t know the full picture yet. The longer answer? We are dedicating the next few weeks to finding facts and developing a full report. SCPRT has commissioned a survey into our traditional markets along the eastern seaboard, seeking information about travelers’ planning, preferences, length of stay and money spent for the eclipse weekend. We hope to have a thorough analysis by mid September, and will share with you.
Meanwhile, we are taking note of some interesting indicators right before our eyes, many of which exceeded our expectations:
-- Hotels in the markets within the path of totality were sold out or nearly sold out for Sunday and Monday nights, including major destinations like Greenville, Columbia and Charleston, and off-the-beaten path places like Newberry, Santee and Clemson. Additionally, Airbnb reported its biggest night ever in South Carolina on Monday, Aug. 21, with more than 10,600 guests.
-- Ticketed venues are reporting sell outs or record sales, including the South Carolina State Museum’s eclipse day events, which welcomed 3,500 guests, and the SC State Fairgrounds’ tailgate party hosting 14,000 people.
-- Admissions revenue for state parks grew by 483% for a third Monday in August, as many of the parks reached carrying capacity before noon and had to close their gates. One-day retail sales were 475% greater than the year before.
Because this type of anecdotal evidence is so strong all across South Carolina, we’re excited about seeing the final picture. We hope it informs us of the true economic impact of such an historic event.
We’ll share our findings in mid September! Stay tuned!