Destination America: Millions of Travelers Flooding Into 'Totality' Cities for Solar Eclipse

On April 8, a total solar eclipse will pass diagonally across the United States, from south to east, promising a tourism surge. Are destinations ready to make the most of the visitor influx?

The next total solar eclipse will happen on April 8, 2024, and be visible in the United States. Approximately, 1 to 4 million travelers are expected to travel to the locations of totality, where they can see the full eclipse. About 31 million people live inside the path of totality.

Communities will devote significant resources to serving the influx of visitors from all over the world. Hotels and short-term rentals will be filled and smaller communities, in particular, will experience an unprecedented stress on local infrastructure.

Several Delta and Southwest flights and a cruise from Holland America are offering special trips in the eclipse's path of totality. Domestic flight bookings for totality cities have surged four times their volume last year from April 1 to 7, according to ForwardKeys. Hotel markets are seeing big spikes in bookings for the April 8th eclipse with over 50% of Austin's hotels booked for the night before the event. Short-term rentals in smaller cities are seeing massive spikes in occupancy, with Dallas witnessing a 941% rise in nights for April 8, according to AirDNA.

Visitors are going to linger for hours in these communities to experience the eclipse and create a surge in parking, roads, and museums and parks. Communities are hosting events and activities to keep visitors entertained to prevent congestion and encourage early arrivals.

Some destinations are more prepared than others for this influx of tourists. Niagara Falls is expecting a million visitors, and Bill Solleder, the director of marketing for Arkansas' Visit Hot Springs, is preparing for what could be one of the largest days in tourism in Arkansas history and in Hot Springs National Park.

Smaller cities and rural locations experienced a 150% boost in booked nights compared to the same time last year, according to AirDNA. However, destinations that are not in the path of totality will not see any substantial tourism boost.

This eclipse is drawing tourists to areas they otherwise would not have gone to and created a sudden interest in eclipse chasing. An umbraphile is someone who travels to see solar eclipses, and once someone experiences their first total eclipse, they become hooked. The next total solar eclipse will not be visible in the contiguous United States until 2044; travelers will need to travel abroad to see one.

Any destination caught in the path of totality could see a tourism boom, as the U.S. is one of the largest outbound tourism markets in the world. The next total solar eclipse will be visible in Greenland, Iceland, Spain, Russia, and a small area of Portugal on August 26, 2026.

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