Early signs show eclipse boosted Midlands economy - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Early signs show eclipse boosted Midlands economy

(Source: WIS) (Source: WIS)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

In the minutes before the moon blocked out the sun at North Springs Park off Clemson Road, Donna Taylor described Columbia in glowing terms.
 
“Oh my gosh, this town is wonderful,” she said, surrounded by her family.
 
“People have been great," Taylor added. "The kids have been playing over there in the playground. It’s been a great experience.”
 
Taylor flew to South Carolina from her home in Lake Tahoe, California. One of tens of thousands of first-time visitors to the Columbia area, drawn by predictions of more than two minutes and 30 seconds of eclipse totality.
 
Predictions of how many would arrive in the Midlands varied widely, with some claiming millions would descend on the Palmetto State. NASA estimated as many as two million could visit the state to witness the event.
 
While exact figures may be difficult to calculate, there are early indications the eclipse delivered a major economic boost for the area.
 
All 28 state parks within the path of totality were fully booked, while Columbia’s 11,600 hotel rooms were at 95% occupancy for Friday and Saturday nights and 100% occupancy for Sunday and Monday nights.
 
Airbnb vacation rental bookings for August 20th were up 570 percent compared to the previous week according to Total Eclipse Weekend, a regional tourism and marketing campaign.
 
ExperienceColumbiaSC sales and marketing spokeswoman Kelly Barbrey said the effort to assess the rare phenomenon’s economic impact is just getting started.
 
She said the more than 120 eclipse-related events in various parts of the metro area may have helped prevent congestion on area roadways.
 
But traffic was heavy in and around many Columbia businesses.
 
At World of Beer on Gervais Street in the Vista, employee Breanna Watters said the bar was full throughout the weekend.
 
“We had people coming in for drinks after dinner and it’s been the busiest it’s been since I’ve been here, “ she said.  “Yesterday (Monday), we opened early and we were slammed.”
 
Vista Guild Director David Erbacher, who also heads the sales office at the Hyatt Place hotel on Gervais, said the hotel was fully booked Sunday and Monday.
 
“The bulk of the eclipse was a very big success for us,” Erbacher said.
 
Barbrey said the eclipse experience and the research now underway will help Columbia get ready for the next chance to step into a national spotlight.
 
“We will be actually digging for those things as we look to prepare for future event, NCAA championships, things of that nature,” she said. "We will be asking those questions and looking to see how we can improve as a destination.”

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